Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has admitted that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic made it “really difficult” to prepare for his side’s Champions League second leg tie with Atletico Madrid.
Having lost the first leg of their last 16 tie 1-0 in Madrid in mid-February – when the virus had not yet gripped Spain – the Reds returned to domestic action with matches against West Ham, Watford, Chelsea and Bournemouth.
That block of fixtures turned out to be Liverpool‘s worst run of the campaign as they exited the FA Cup and lost their first Premier League game of the campaign.
Meanwhile, as the coronavirus began to take its hold on Spain, Klopp‘s men were dumped out of the Champions League by Atletico three days before Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez announced a nationwide lockdown.
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Klopp has opened up on how the developing situation caused him anxiety and led to struggles to properly prepare for the crucial last 16 tie.
“It is two weeks ago, but it feels like it is ages ago that we played Atletico and Thursday was a day off,” the manager said.
“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 [Manchester] City lost, so the information for us was ‘two wins to go’ [to win the Premier League title].
“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.”
The UK soon followed suit, with the Premier League postponing games initially until April 4 before extending the layoff until April 30.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson then effectively put the country into lockdown, restricting people’s movement from their homes to four key reasons including for exercise and to purchase medical supplies.
“Nobody knew exactly – and nobody knows exactly – how it will go on,” Klopp continued.
“So the only way we could do it was to organise it as good as possible for the boys and make sure everything is sorted as much as we can sort it in our little space, in the little area where we are responsible, really.
“That’s what we did in a very short time, then we sent the boys home, went home ourselves and here we are still.”