Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed his opposition to suggestions the Champions League should expand in a move that could mean more games for Europe’s elite teams.
According to a Daily Mail report, leading Premier League clubs including Liverpool are backing plans that could see the Champions League significantly restructured.
The group stage could grow from a six-match commitment to 10 games per team, the British newspaper said. Such a step could boost earnings potential but also have an impact on existing domestic football schedules.
Klopp’s team lead the Premier League, and in the coming week they head to Qatar to compete in the Club World Cup, after earning a place in that event by winning the Champions League.
Injuries are beginning to take a toll at Anfield, with Georginio Wijnaldum joining the casualty list on Saturday when he suffered a muscle problem in the 2-0 win over Watford.
One Liverpool team will face Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, before another plays Monterrey at the Club World Cup a day later.
“The fixtures are like they are. You all like watching us suffering – that’s how it is,” Klopp said. “You look a little bit concerned, but at the end nobody cares really.”
That finish pic.twitter.com/9smvPvLBwS
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 14, 2019
He added: “Today I read an article [saying that] the top clubs want to do more games in the Champions League or whatever. I am not involved in these plans. So that’s absolute b******s as well.
“That’s how it is. We can talk about everything but we have to cut off games, not be putting more in.
“Until then we have to do what we do and we will do that and we are quite positive about it.
“We need each point we can get because it’s a tough and long season. You [the media] can make early judgements… but we can’t. We just have to recover and play the next game.”
Klopp dismissed the idea his team were off their game against Watford, who had enough chances to win the match rather than leave empty-handed in Nigel Pearson’s first game as Hornets manager.
“No, just a difficult game. It was not an off-day,” Klopp said. “We scored sensational goals.
“It was just a difficult game and I’m completely fine with that.”
Klopp also cast a questioning look at the arrangements in place for FIFA’s Club World Cup.
The opening matches have been played at Doha’s Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, but all games from now on will be contested at the city’s Khalifa International Stadium, with five fixtures due to be played on the same pitch in five days.
That scenario has come about because FIFA said in early December that the Education City Stadium, which had been due to host Liverpool’s semi-final against Monterrey, plus the third-place play-off and final, was not ready in time to stage games at the tournament.
That venue is being built primarily for the 2022 World Cup.
Klopp recognised Liverpool would be going into a warmer climate after their seven-hour flight to the Middle East, but added: “I think it’s raining there. Perhaps it doesn’t help the pitch – the one pitch we are playing all on … it’s sensationally good organisation – where all the games are on one pitch and it’s raining.
“I’m not sure if the people in Qatar are used to a lot of rain. We will see how the pitch will be. That’s a bit of a problem.”
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