Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has fired back at TV stations after claiming that no other league in the world would schedule matches like they do in England.
If they make it through the Champions League quarter-finals against Benfica, over whom they have a 3-1 lead, Klopp’s team will face either Bayern Munich or Villarreal in the quarter-finals.
What bothers him most, though, is that after potential semi-finalists Liverpool have to travel to Newcastle for Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off.
“If we go through tomorrow, we have a semi-final, and then BT and the Premier League thought we should have Newcastle out at 12:30,” said Klopp, who has often bristled at the way matches are organised.
“The schedule and how people use fame at the moment – Liverpool is hot and everyone wants to see them – they couldn’t care less. It just isn’t right.
“If we play a Champions League semifinal, find me another league in the world and another broadcaster in the world, who would put that team at 12:30?
“Throw a stick between their legs. What are you doing? Why would you do that? It’s because no one cares. It’s incredibly difficult.”
Carabao Cup champions Liverpool are still in contention for an unprecedented quadruple, but with a two-goal lead ahead of Wednesday’s second leg, it was suggested to the manager that he might want to tailor his selection against Benfica with a view to to the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at the weekend.
Klopp, however, refused to underestimate Benfica when he arrives at Anfield.
“The next game has absolutely no bearing on tomorrow night’s line-up, but the last game obviously does,” the manager said, referring to Sunday’s thrilling 2-2 draw against City at the Etihad Stadium.
“So we have to see. It’s a super intense schedule. Nobody’s injured that I know of, but we have to be careful who’s fresh enough for this game and things like that.
“We see it as a super important game, but we are in a world where if you win the first leg 3-1 and you have City anywhere, people think you can focus elsewhere. We see it a little differently.
“We put in a lot of effort to qualify for the Champions League, and now we can get to the semi-finals, which is unbelievable, and that’s what we want to show tomorrow.”
On his ongoing quadruple challenge, he added: “We played City (in the FA Cup), you saw how tough it was. How could I sit here now and think about winning the Champions League?
“We are part of four competitions, and fortunately we are good enough this year not to leave early.
“We just try to squeeze everything out of every competition. Some are possible, we’ll see.”
Liverpool looked to be headed for victory in Lisbon a week ago, as they took a two-goal lead in 34 minutes and might have been out of sight before half-time, but only Luis Diaz’s late goal, after Darwin Nunez had disallowed a goal for the locals, they made things more comfortable for the second leg.
“Knowing more about the way they played, they try to isolate Darwin and Ibou (Konate) a little bit one by one,” Klopp said.
“But they play football, and if you don’t defend (Julian) Weigl, you also have a problem because he connects people. They have speed with Rafa (da Silva), things like that.
“I don’t know (how they will play) but I know what I would do. I would go for it, full speed ahead. He would try to put pressure on us, score early and if not, try to score a little later. That is what we expect.
“Benfica respected us before, but during the game I’m pretty sure they felt they were close here and there.
“But now, bad news for Benfica, it’s Anfield: they don’t just play against us, they play against the whole crowd.”