Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has revealed the extent of difficulty that recent health concerns have had on the preparations for the visit from Atletico Madrid earlier this month.
The Reds were beaten 3-2 in extra time at Anfield as the defence of their European title came to a dramatic end.
Despite the outbreak of Covid-19 in Madrid ahead of the Merseyside visit, Spain had stepped up measures to combat the virus with stricter guidelines in place across the country to stop the speed spiralling.
Even after the introduction of these new policies, 3000 Atletico fans were still permitted to travel to Merseyside for the last-16 clash.
And Klopp said he struggled to fully focus on preparation for the game, although the FIFA Coach of the Year is refusing to look for excuses for his first European two-legged knockout defeat with the Reds.
He told the club’s official website: “We played the Bournemouth game on Saturday, we won it, then Sunday City lost, so the information for us was ‘two wins to go’.
“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. Wednesday we had the game.
“I loved the game, I loved what I saw from the boys, it was a really, really good performance other than the result – we didn’t score enough, we conceded too many, that’s all clear.
“But between these two main pieces of information, it was a brilliant game!”
Melwood return date unknown
Liverpool’s crushing defeat to Diego Simeone’s Los Rojiblancos was suddenly followed with swift action from Premier League who suspended the English top-flight until April 3 – it has since been extended to April 30.
The Reds then took it upon themselves to enforce their own action to combat the virus as players were suspended from attending Melwood and were then given their own tailored individual programmes to complete at home.
Klopp detailed how he and the players collectively talked regarding the decision to suspend training at the West Derby base.
“Thursday [we were] off and then Friday when we arrived it was already clear this is not a session,” Klopp added. ”
Yes, we trained, but it was more of a meeting. We had a lot of things to talk about, a lot of things to think about, things I never thought before in my life about.
“Nobody knew exactly – and nobody knows exactly – how it will go on, so the only way we could do 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.”