LIVERPOOL boss Jurgen Klopp has admitted that it was “difficult” to prepare for their Champions League round of 16 second leg with Atletico Madrid amid the coronavirus outbreak.
The Reds crashed out of the competition after extra time goals from Marcos Llorente and Alvaro Morata condemned them to a 3-2 defeat on the night.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
But with Spain having already been hit by Covid-19, and Madrid itself having been struck by 782 cases on the day of the match, preparation was not ideal for Klopp’s men.
Around 3,000 supporters descended upon Anfield from Spain’s capital regardless, and witnessed their side somehow dump out Europe’s reigning champions.
With their own stadium already shut down, owing to the emerging crisis, many feel that the match should not have been allowed to go ahead.
On the distractions leading up to the match, Reds manager Klopp told the club’s official website: “It is two weeks ago, but it feels like it is ages ago that we played Atletico and Thursday was a day off.
I usually don’t struggle with things around me, I can build barriers right and left when I prepare for a game, but in that moment it was really difficult.
“I remember, we all knew about the situation with coronavirus around the world but we were still ‘in our tunnel’, if you want, and until then it didn’t really arrive into our mind in England.
“We played the Bournemouth game on Saturday, we won it, then Sunday City lost, so the information for us was ‘two wins to go’.
“But then on Monday morning, I woke up and heard about the situation in Madrid, that they would close the schools and universities from Wednesday, so it was really strange to prepare for that game, to be honest.
“I usually don’t struggle with things around me, I can build barriers right and left when I prepare for a game, but in that moment it was really difficult.”
Despite his side’s defeat, however, Klopp was pleased with his side’s efforts in what turned out to be their final game for some time.
He continued: “Wednesday we had the game, I loved the game, I loved what I saw from the boys, it was a really, really good performance other than the result – we didn’t score enough, we conceded too many, that’s all clear, but between these two main pieces of information it was a brilliant game!
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – BE IN THE KNOW
The situation in Spain has deteriorated further since Atletico’s triumph 17 days ago, with over 65,000 confirmed cases.
They also joined Italy in overtaking China’s total death toll, with over 5,000 fatalities.
The United Kingdom has since, like Spain – gone into lockdown, with over 14,000 confirmed cases and 761 people killed by the disease.