English Premiership

Klopp laments timing of Club World Cup as Liverpool prepare for semi-final

2019-12-17 15:32
Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp (AFP)

Doha - Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool are fully focused on winning this week's Club World Cup ahead of their semi-final against Monterrey of Mexico but hit out at the timing of the competition and questioned FIFA's plans to expand the tournament in future.

"We are here now and we are completely focused on it, but if you had asked me beforehand if I think that there should be a Club World Cup in the middle of our season, I would say no, in my honest opinion," Klopp told journalists at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, where Liverpool face Monterrey on Wednesday.

The Anfield club have had to take time out from their seemingly relentless march towards the Premier League title to travel to Qatar for the tournament, in which they are Europe's representatives thanks to their Champions League triumph last season.

If Liverpool win against the Mexicans, they will advance to a final on Saturday against either Flamengo of Brazil or Saudi side Al Hilal, while even if they lose their semi-final they will remain in Qatar for a third-place play-off at the weekend.

Their Premier League trip to West Ham United, scheduled for this weekend, was postponed as a result, and they have been forced to play their League Cup quarter-final at Aston Villa on Tuesday with a squad of academy players due to the lack of alternatives in a packed schedule.

After the competition concludes, they will rush back home to prepare for a trip to Leicester City -- their closest title challengers -- next Thursday, on the Boxing Day holiday in the United Kingdom.

FIFA recently confirmed plans to expand the current seven-team Club World Cup played in December to a 24-team competition which will start in China in 2021 and will be played in June and July -- that means a clash with the next Africa Cup of Nations, to be held at the same time.

The existing format is particularly unloved in Europe, even if European clubs have won the last six editions.

Klopp added: "Can it be an even bigger tournament in the future? I don't know. We have to make sure that we have great competitions, but not at the same time, that's all.

"I like now being here because we have a lot of fans in this part of the world, they usually have to follow us at night time if they want to watch our games so that's nice that we can come closer from time to time.

"But everybody needs to think about it. If there is time for a tournament which is nice, then you cannot have then another. You cannot just add on tournaments, that doesn't work."

Meanwhile, Klopp sidestepped questions about Qatar's human rights record, a point raised amid concerns over treatment of immigrant workers and of the stance on homosexuality in the country which will also host the 2022 World Cup.

"I have an opinion about football and I have an opinion about that as well but it is a really serious thing to talk about and I really think this should be given by people who know more about that," he said, trying to keep the focus on football.

"Whatever I think about that it would not help the situation, it would just create another headline -- positive or negative, who cares.

"Other people need to think about these things. We are here to represent Europe, to represent Liverpool first and foremost, that's what we do. We are invited, we qualified, and we go there."

 

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Fixtures
Saturday, 22 February 2020
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur, Stamford Bridge 14:30
Sheffield United v Brighton & Hove Albion, Bramall Lane 17:00
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United, Selhurst Park 17:00
Southampton v Aston Villa, St. Mary's Stadium 17:00
Burnley v AFC Bournemouth, Turf Moor 17:00
Leicester City v Manchester City, King Power Stadium 19:30
Sunday, 23 February 2020
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Norwich City, Molineux Stadium 16:00
Manchester United v Watford, Old Trafford 16:00
Arsenal v Everton, Emirates Stadium 18:30
Monday, 24 February 2020
Liverpool v West Ham United, Anfield 22:00
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