(Update 1: Adds Klopp quotes)
Sports Desk, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- A Liverpool team severely depleted by injuries, especially in defense, travels to RB Leipzig for the Champions League Round of 16 first leg match on Tuesday.
The game will not be played in Leipzig, however, but in the Hungarian capital, Budapest, after the English side were not allowed to travel to Germany because of coronavirus restrictions on arrivals from the United Kingdom.
Liverpool’s disastrous recent form in the league led to manager Juergen Klopp conceding the title after his side’s third consecutive loss, away at Leicester on Saturday, their fourth defeat in six matches. The Reds are 13 points off leader Manchester City having played a game more, and now face a fight to finish in the top four, which would have been seen as a minimum requirement at the start of the campaign.
“I don’t think we can close the gap,” Klopp said at the weekend. “We are not worrying about the title, we are not silly.”
With domestic glory off the table — Liverpool have also been eliminated from the FA Cup and League Cup — the 2019 winners will be focusing on European success, their only remaining avenue for a trophy this season.
Elaborating on his thoughts during a Monday pre-match press conference, Klopp said: “Injuries had a big part in it (recent losses), we cannot ignore that, that’s just because it changed everything.
“A football team is like building a house, if the foundation is not right then it’s always a little bit shaky,” he added.
RB Leipzig, on the other hand, are riding high after a 2-1 win at home to Augsburg made it four victories on the spin for last season’s Champions League semi-finalists. Leipzig are currently second in the Bundesliga, four points behind seemingly perennial champions Bayern Munich, who have a game in hand on the East German team.
“We know that Liverpool are a world-class team,” Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann told uefa.com. “They have written off the Premier League title and will go into the Champions League with full vigour.