Defending champion Liverpool was knocked out of the Champions League on March 11, a misplayed Adrián pass tumbling into a 4-2 aggregate loss to Atlético Madrid following a 1-0 first-leg defeat. Reds coach Jurgen Klopp has reportedly called the playing of that second leg a “criminal act.”
Speaking to Corriere dello Sport, an Italian national sports newspaper, Everton coach Carlo Ancelotti said Klopp told him he didn’t think the match should have been played.
Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat to Atlético Madrid was the last time the Premier League leaders took the field. Following the match, European soccer shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Both the Premier League and Champions League have suspended play, leaving Liverpool with nothing but time to rue over the defeat that denied one of England’s most storied clubs a second straight European crown.
During this time, Jurgen Klopp spoke with his Merseyside rival Ancelotti, who then relayed some of his thoughts to the Italian media.
“I spoke with Klopp a few days ago,” Ancelotti told Corriere dello Sport. “He told me that the decision to play Liverpool-Atlético was a criminal act, and I think he’s right.”
While some might see Klopp’s statement as a competitor who is bitter about a loss, the Liverpool coach has a point.
The same day Liverpool hosted Atleti at a packed house at Anfield, PSG hosted Borussia Dortmund in front of an empty Parc des Princes as Europe was starting to take action against the coronavirus.
The Reds were allowed to have their home fans in full force behind them, but the large gathering was one of the last in England, a country that has seen its royalty and prime minister test positive for coronavirus. Klopp has been a voice of reason during this time of self-isolation and quarantine, so it’s likely his statement stems more from a desire to keep the public healthy than being a sore loser, even if he is, admittedly, historically a sore loser.
As for Ancelotti, he too was focused on public health over the playing of a game.
“We are all living a life that we were not used to and that will change us profoundly,” he said. “I’m sure we will all have to downsize, starting with football. Today, the priority is health, limiting the contagion. When you start again, when you finish, the dates … believe me, I don’t care. At the moment, that’s the last thing on my mind.
“I hear talk about cutting salaries, suspension of payments. They seem like inopportune solutions. Soon the economy will change, and that’s at all levels: The TV rights will be less, players and coaches will earn less, tickets will cost less because people will have less money. I repeat, what matters now is to fight the virus effectively. Then, of course, if it will be possible to continue the season... otherwise, amen.”