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Leipzig vs. Liverpool Champions League tie in doubt due to Germany travel ban

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Liverpool are due to take on RB Leipzig in the Champions League last 16 on February 16, but the first leg is now in doubt due to a current ban on travel into Germany.

The Reds face a first-time clash with the newly successful German club this month, having been drawn against Leipzig after finishing top of their Champions League group.

Premier League champions against Bundesliga challengers, it is one of the most hotly anticipated ties in this season’s tournament, with two of Germany’s best managers pitted against each other.

But it remains to be seen when and where Jurgen Klopp and Julien Nagelsmann will meet again, with German outlet Tagesschau confirming that there would be no exception for elite footballers in an existing travel ban into the country.

Germany have imposed restrictions on entry from the UK, Ireland, Brazil, Portugal and South Africa in order to combat a new variant of COVID-19, with this set to run until February 17 at the earliest.

Liverpool are scheduled to play Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena on February 16, but now the two clubs could be required to find alternative arrangements.

UEFA ruling states that if a club is prevented from travelling to fulfil a fixture, it would be up to the home side to provide a different venue.

This was set to be the case with Liverpool’s group stage trip to Midtjylland in December, due to Denmark not being included in the UK’s travel corridor at the time, with Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion set to host the game.

But an exemption for elite athletes allowed the fixture to be played as planned – which is not due to be the case in Leipzig.

NYON, SWITZERLAND - Monday, December 14, 2020: The completed draw shown on the big screen during the UEFA Champions League 2020/21 Round of 16 draw at the UEFA Headquarters, the House of European Football. (Photo Handout/UEFA)

Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff said on Sunday that “our goal is not to play in St. Petersburg or anywhere else as an alternative,” but the Red Bull club may have little option but to do so.

There is the possibility that the fixture be pushed back to the day after, when the current ban is due to end, but there is no guarantee at this point that the German government won’t extend the restrictions.

A more sensible course of action would be to relocate to another venue, perhaps Austria, with Leipzig’s sister-club, Red Bull Salzburg, not due to play their Europa League round-of-32 tie at home to Villarreal until February 18.

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