Soccer-Leipzig still in the dark over Liverpool game - club

Karolos Grohmann
·3-min read
FILE PHOTO: DFB Cup - Third Round - RB Leipzig v VfL Bochum

By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - RB Leipzig do not yet know where they will play their Champions League last-16 first leg against Liverpool on Feb. 16 with the club working on a number of options if German authorities refuse entry to the English club.

Germany has banned all arrivals from areas affected by COVID-19 mutations until at least Feb. 17, with the only exceptions made for German citizens or residents.

Along with Leipzig, Borussia Moenchengladbach are also weighing their options for the first leg of their tie against Manchester City on Feb. 24 should the ban be extended.

Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said on Friday he was not concerned about the game and would wait on final decisions.

"I talked with (Leipzig managing director) Oliver Mintzlaff a short while ago and there is nothing new at the moment to announce," Nagelsmann told a virtual news conference.

"I cannot organise it or schedule it myself. Other people do that. We will have to wait for the situation to be decided. It has not yet been decided so we cannot say anything."

The federal police has informed the club its case did "not fall under the category of exceptional circumstances."

Liverpool's German coach Juergen Klopp said, however, an exemption would be "reasonable".

"Our people are working with UEFA and Leipzig... we'll find out where we play. It's not our decision," Klopp told reporters ahead of Sunday's Premier League visit of Manchester City.

"I think with all the stuff we're doing here, the record we have here with cases and discipline... it would be absolutely reasonable to make an exemption."

"I don't know who decides it in the German government but they've said so far 'not possible'... We know there's another strain, but we're in a bubble and we could play at Leipzig without a problem... But the rules are the rules."

Leipzig will likely need to find an alternate venue or shift the two-leg tie around and first play in England.

Asked about whether there was any home advantage with no fans if the first leg is switched to Liverpool, Nagelsmann said even without spectators home teams had a slight edge.

"Irrespective of the Liverpool game, you still have a small home advantage, a bit reduced than if you play with fans. But you still avoid a trip, get to sleep in your own bed. Some people are affected by this greater than some others."

Gladbach are also weighing their options, sports director Max Eberl said.

"As things stand now no English clubs can come in due to the COVID-19 mutations. So as organisers we have to think about it and see how and where we can stage the game against Manchester City," he said. "Talks are ongoing."

He said several stadiums, including Midtjylland's in neighbouring Denmark, had been contacted and a decision would be made in the coming days.

(Additional reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)