Liverpool’s last-16 Champions League match against RB Leipzig is reportedly under threat after the German government imposed a flight ban until February 17.
On Friday, chancellor Angela Merkel’s government announced entry restrictions for travellers from the UK, Ireland, Brazil, Portugal and South Africa, to try to stop the spread of the more contagious coronavirus variants.
Liverpool are due to take on their Bundesliga opponents a day before the current ban is due to end in the first leg of their round-of-16 encounter.
Now, according to the Liverpool Echo, that could mean the fixture is switched to a neutral venue if Jurgen Klopp’s side are not allowed to travel to the Red Bull Arena.
The report adds another alternative could be for the locations of the first and second legs to be reversed with Liverpool hosting Leipzig first before travelling to Germany for the return fixture on March 10.
Julian Nagelsmann’s men would be allowed to travel to and from Anfield because German passport holders and residents can travel to Germany, given that they would be tested immediately on arrival.
However, this solution would counter the second-leg home advantage the Reds had gained by topping Group D.
The report also adds that Liverpool are yet to receive any official confirmation that the game will be switched.
But this is not the first time this season in Europe that Liverpool have faced such difficulties. Borussia Dortmund were on standby to host the Reds’ final group game against FC Midtjylland, because a travel ban meant alternative arrangements had to be made.
However, the game ended up taking place at the home of the Danish side, and ended up as a 1-1 stalemate.
Liverpool are not the only English side that could be affected in Europe by current coronavirus restrictions.
Arsenal’s trip to Benfica (Feb 18) in the Europa League round of 32 will be affected because Portugal is on the UK’s no-go list. The Gunners are in talks with UEFA over the game being played at a neutral venue.
The news comes after Government talks on Thursday raised hopes that the majority of Premier League clubs would be able to fulfil their European fixtures as long as they are not travelling to places on the UK’s red list.
Chelsea’s visit to Atletico Madrid (Feb 23) and Manchester City’s game against Borussia Monchengladbach (Feb 24) are all set to go ahead as planned.
Manchester United’s trip to Real Sociedad, Leicester’s visit to Slavia Prague and Tottenham’s match at Wolfsberger (all on Feb 18) in the Europa League should be unaffected — though the situation could be subject to change.