Liverpool’s Champions League tie with RB Leipzig has been thrown into confusion with the Premier League champions banned from entering Germany due to coronavirus restrictions.
Jurgen Klopp and his squad are slated to play the first leg of their last-16 tie at Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena on February 16.
Germany has enforced strict rules prohibiting international travel from areas with high risk due to mutations of the coronavirus, such as the United Kingdom.
Airline travel into Germany from these regions is prohibited until at least February 17, one day after the game is slated to go ahead.
The news has not come as a serious surprise in Germany. At the beginning of the week, the Federal Ministry of the Interior (BMI) announced that the new restrictions would “initially not allow any exceptions for professional athletes”.
On Thursday, the BMI ensured that a Champions League match would not be grounds for a special permit.
“The Federal Police notified the association that the described constellation does not fall under the unusual circumstances of the Corona Protection Ordinance,” the BMI told the Sports Information Service (SID).
UEFA has assigned Leipzig until February 8 to organise an alternative plan to allow the match to go ahead.
It is possible, but uncertain, that the two teams could agree to switch their home games, so the first leg on February 16 is played at Anfield.
The second leg is scheduled for March 10, providing extra time for a solution to be found or restrictions to be eased.
However, it is very uncertain that Liverpool would agree to this as the club would not be keen to lose the advantage of having the final second leg on home soil.
The game could be played at a neutral ground in a country with less strict coronavirus restrictions, with Russia and Hungary referred as possible destinations by German outlet Bild.
Points will not be deducted but if a reasonable plan is not submitted to UEFA by February 8, Liverpool will be rewarded a 3-0 win.
Giving the away goals into the equation, that would put Klopp’s side at a huge advantage going into the second leg at Anfield.
Leipzig made it to the semi-finals of last year’s competition, with Liverpool knocked out at the quarter-final stage by Atletico Madrid shortly before England went into lockdown.