Lyon teamed up with Brondby in the last 16 of the Women’s Champions League
Servette defender Amandine Soulard, left, fights for the ball with Atletico Madrid striker Toni Duggan, in the first leg of the Women’s Champions League last 32 at the Stade de Geneve stadium, in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, December 9, 2020. The match was played behind closed doors due to the pandemic COVID-19 corona virus.
Liverpool face Champions League headaches after the German government banned all flights from England until February 17 to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Germany.
The Premier League champions will face off RB Leipzig in Germany on February 16 but now it may be necessary to find alternative solutions.
Playing the game on neutral ground is either open to the side, or swap places for the first and second legs.
That means Leipzig will travel to Liverpool for the first leg on February 16 and Jurgen Klopp’s side play in Germany on March 10.
Leipzig can travel to Anfield and return for the first leg as German passport holders and residents are allowed to travel to Germany where they will be tested straight away.
A ban has been put in place by the German government to contain the spread of a new variant of the coronavirus from high-risk countries.
COVID-19 has forced the postponement of several Premier League games this season. However, it came about because of an outbreak at the club rather than a travel ban.
German football was largely unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2020-21 campaign. Although several high-profile players have tested positive, no Bundesliga matches have been postponed so far.
Some players in the Brazilian league may be relieved that the game is being played behind closed doors at the moment, as it limits the opportunity for angry fans to protest.
Even so, angry supporters can still gather at the airport and training ground, and it’s not just the team at the wrong end of the table who can feel the power of anger. Sao Paulo and Flamengo is a prime candidate to win the league table but, in recent months, even players from these clubs have been harassed or seen derogatory slogans plastered on the walls of their training ground.
Some of these are manifestations of an angry society. The old tourist myth of Brazil as a land of the lucky and the fortunate of the satisfied has crumbled in the light of recent political events.
But there’s also something else, an intrinsic factor in Brazilian football, but something that should serve as a stern warning to those in charge of European club play.
Brazil is a country the size of a continent, a geographic fact with significant implications for the development of the game. For decades the transport infrastructure was insufficient for a true national championship. Brazilian football then developed as a regional phenomenon. The focus is on local. There are prototypes, but the national league was only formed in 1971. Until about 25 years ago, state championships were still very important, one for each of the 27 states that make up this giant nation.
It is under this approach that so many clubs have amassed titles and prestige to be considered giants. The heart of the southeast and south – Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre – contains 12 recognized giants, a number that does not even include clubs from the far north with mass support.
The last few decades have seen important changes. Brazilian club football has moved from a regional to national approach. The state championships are still around, but they have lost their light. Their time had been reduced, and even so, they were seen as the current tournament as little better than unnecessary chaos.
This creates a problem. The club now aims to win the national league or domestic cup, or the continental Copa Libertadores. In a sporting culture obsessed with winning now that state championships are an afterthought, there are not enough titles left for all the so-called giants to maintain their status of giants.
In a league of 12 giant clubs, one is destined to finish no more than 12. And a club that can consistently only crave mediocrity in mid-table can hardly be called a giant.
Imagine an example Botafogo. They supplied a number of great players to Brazil’s 1958, 1962 and 1970 World Cup winning teams, but they are now facing relegation for the third time in this century. This is no big surprise. Their support base is relatively small compared to their Rio neighbors, Flamengo or even Vasco da Gama. In a national environment, when a large gap opens up in the number of paid teams in TV rights, it is difficult for Botafogo to be competitive. It has been some time since they entered the league season with realistic hopes of winning the title – and that is a difficult reality for those who draw on the stories of Garrincha, Didi, Nilton Santos, Zagallo, Amarildo and Jairzinho.
The transition from regional to national is guaranteed to create dissatisfaction from supporters.
Now let’s apply this to the hopes of some of the great European clubs of setting up a continental super league.
The parallels are clear – it’s just a case of imagining Europe as one country and seeing a national league similar to the Brazilian state championships. And indeed, some European leagues have become like state championships: Losing prestige due to loss of competitiveness, becomes more predictable when financial gaps open. The whole continent’s super league would start with, say, 20 clubs, all of which would enter the competition with giant status, based on the fact that they won most of their matches.
But in a 20 team league, one has to finish 20th, and 19th, and so on. And a club that loses a large part of its game will soon be doomed to lose its giant status, and become a major disappointment to a generation of fans who have grown up with titles and glory.
The European Super League, then, seems destined to please some of the people at the top, and prove a major source of discontent for everyone.
Liverpool’s injury woes this season may force them into the January transfer window as they seek reinforcements.
Jurgen Klopp was forced to play without Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez while several other star players have had to face difficulties.
The lack of defensive options has been a major concern for Germany, which is blessed with a lot of attacking wealth.
That might see him adding a few players in every position with defenders in Portugal and Germany considered to be on his radar.
Here are the latest transfer rumors surrounding the Premier League champions.
Konate is on Klopp’s radar
RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate is on Klopp’s radar, according to German outlet Bild.
The young defender is not as much sought after as his center-back counterpart Dayot Upamecano.
Yet he remains a quality operator and is getting stronger in Germany after moving from Sochaux in 2017.
The Reds have seen their defensive options tested this season and are expected to make additions in that area.
The Reds retain Mendes’ interest
Sporting Lisbon left-back Nuno Mendes has been the subject of a failed summer offer Liverpool but they can still come back.
O Jogo reports that the Reds have a genuine interest in signing an 18-year-old who remains a regular on the Portugal team.
Liverpool’s failed bid saw them go after Kostas Tsimikas but they are still ready to move again to Mendes in the summer.
That could leave them well stocked at left-back, but their injury problems could lead to such an approach.
Chief ranger Dave King envisions Steven Gerrard remaining at Rangers for at least another two years.
But he accepted that if Liverpool came to call the former Red he would return to Anfield.
It looks like a possible trick even with Klopp enjoying so much success.
The king said: “I think so [Gerrard’s leaving Ibrox] I thought it was inevitable that there would be suitors, but I clearly didn’t understand from Steven that he intended to leave Rangers in the near future.
He’s not the type of person – as I understand it – to be flattered by money. I think Steven is trying to do the right thing for himself, for his career.
“I don’t think Steven, he will speak for himself, but in my experience of him, I don’t think he will think the job will be done even winning a title this year.
“I think he wants to strengthen that by another year or two and maybe go to the Champions League.
“In my view, Steven sees himself at Rangers for the next few years and I don’t see him tempted to leave, except for one club, and I don’t think that opportunity is available anytime soon.”