Klopp jokes Liverpool asked Villa to play Carabao Cup game in Qatar

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp joked they asked Aston Villa to travel to Qatar to play their Carabao Cup quarter-final as he did not want to upset the EFL or FIFA.

The club are to employ 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 asked Aston Villa if they would come to Qatar and we can play the game there!” said Klopp.

“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.”

Klopp has previously sounded his displeasure at how the domestic calendar, combined with international fixtures, places a huge demand on players.

However, he was not willing to risk becoming embroiled in a row with authorities about the scheduling of this game.

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.

Liverpool v Arsenal – Carabao Cup – Fourth Round – Anfield
Liverpool fans in the stands before the Carabao Cup fourth round match at Anfield against Arsenal (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Is it the best time of the year? No. We are busy, but we go there. We try to play all the games with what we have. Now we had this situation and nobody had any idea.

“It’s not only the Carabao Cup. If you have a rematch (replay) in the FA Cup, which I don’t like, and you go through to the final of the Carabao Cup… you cannot work like this.

“I don’t want to cancel competitions – I’m from Germany, why should I cancel English competitions – but I still want to talk about the problems, and that’s what I did.

“Every year we do the same and people think it’s funny that a team has to play five games in three days.

“We cannot carry on like this. Come on. That’s why I ask that we sit at a table and find solutions. At the moment, the solutions sound like problems.”

The EFL insisted they had to protect the integrity of their competition but thanked Liverpool for agreeing to a solution.

“The EFL has long acknowledged that this competition provides those clubs with large resources with the opportunity to rotate their squads knowing that teams who wish to be successful have to be prepared to play a large amount of matches over the course of the season,” said EFL football services director Dave Cookson.

“Therefore, in these exceptional circumstances, the decision was taken having received clear assurances from the club that there will be a level of consistency in team selection, a feature which is key to ensuring integrity is maintained.

“We recognise the challenges Liverpool face in this matter and appreciate the efforts made to find a practical solution.”

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