Liverpool (AFP) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp accepted “some things are more important than football” but is unsure whether the closure of stadiums across Europe will help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Klopp’s side will host Atletico Madrid in a crucial Champions League last 16, second leg on Wednesday in front of a capacity crowd of over 50,000.
No restrictions have been placed on matches played in the United Kingdom, but nearly 3,000 Atletico fans are expected to travel for the game.
La Liga announced on Tuesday that all matches in Spain will be played behind closed doors for the next two weeks.
“Some things are more important than football, we realise that in this moment,” said Klopp at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“I don’t know enough about how much it would help with the football games. The problem with football games is if you are not at the stadium you are in closed rooms watching, maybe together. I’m not sure what is better in this case.”
Liverpool are expected to wrap up a first English league title in 30 years over the next 10 days, but could do so in an empty stadium if extra measures are imposed in Britain.
“Whatever is decided we will respect because we all have families. Parents, kids, friends which we want to do well, for that it’s clear we will accept that,” added Klopp.
The Champions League has been severely disrupted by the chaos caused by the virus.
Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona will play the second leg of their last-16 ties behind closed doors, while it remains to be seen if Juventus can host their clash with Lyon next week with Italy in lockdown to halt the contagion.
However, Klopp is focused on overturning a 1-0 first-leg deficit against Atletico to maintain his proud record of never losing a two-legged European tie in five years as Liverpool boss.
Diego Simeone’s side frustrated the Reds in Spain three weeks ago and Klopp demanded a higher tempo from his side to unsettle Atletico’s famously well-organised defence.
“If you play predictable, Atletico defends you for the next six months without a rest,” added Klopp.
“It is really good what they are doing, (I have the) highest respect, but there are ways and we have to find them tomorrow night.
“We can show that we really learned from the first game, respecting that it is possible we don’t go through.
“If you are afraid of going out, you cannot play with freedom and we need to play free, knowing they are really good at defending.”
Captain Jordan Henderson and Andy Robertson will be fit to return from injury for Liverpool, but goalkeeper Alisson Becker remains sidelined by a hip problem.
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