Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has conceded that he did not want to upset the EFL or FIFA – but joked they asked Aston Villa to travel to Qatar to play their Carabao Cup quarter-final.
The club are to employ a rarely-seen split squad scenario after their last-eight tie was confirmed for its original date of December 17, the day before the team play a Club World Cup semi-final in Doha.
Fixture congestion – the Reds have already had to postpone one Premier League match to fit in their trip to the Gulf – meant it was impossible to fit in the tie before the scheduled semi-final first leg in early January.
So Liverpool have reluctantly agreed to fulfil both fixtures using the full extent of their extended first-team squad and youth team players.
“We have an idea how we do it, but it’s too early to speak about it. We made a decision because all the other alternatives were more problems than solutions, so we said ‘OK’.
“This is how we can do it as good as possible for us. We have a bit of time to think about that, and more important things to do.
“In these next couple of weeks we will make a decision about how it will look exactly. But in the end, they will play a Liverpool team, 100 per cent.”
Asked if they were put under pressure to play the League Cup game, he said: “Kind of! Do you want to be really in trouble with FIFA? No. Do we want to be in trouble with the EFL? Probably not. We respect the competition.
“It sounds like we don’t like the Carabao Cup, which is not true. What I don’t like is that it’s two legs in the semi-final. I don’t understand that and I don’t like that in the busiest period.
“The Club World Cup, you only play if you win the Champions League, and that doesn’t happen in your life five million times. You take the opportunity.”
There is only one fixture which matters to Klopp’s side at the moment, however, and that is Sunday’s visit of Manchester City.
That huge game between the Premier League’s top-two overshadowed the 2-1 Champions League victory over Genk which put the Reds top of their group and within one win of qualification to the knockout phase.
“‘Job done’ is the headline for the game, pretty much, but the group is not decided. It’s a tough group,” said Klopp, who admitted afterwards that there was one thing bothering him about Liverpool lately.
“The most important thing; we won and nobody is injured. Apart from that, the result is the result because we didn’t finish our situations off like we should and could have done.”