Where Liverpool's Champions League tie with RB Leipzig could be played

RB Leipzig may have to get creative in order to fulfil the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie with Liverpool after the German government announced the English side would not be permitted entry to the country - with Hungary's Puskas Arena the favourite to host the game.

In the wake of news of another Covid-19 mutation, lawmakers in Germany banned incoming visitors from any country that had recorded cases of a new strain until at least 17 February - one day after Leipzig are due to host Jurgen Klopp's team in the first leg.

It had long been known travel restrictions of some description would be in place when the tie was played, but there had been an assumption that elite sport would be permissible. A government statement, though, threw that out the window.

"The Corona Protection Ordinance passed by the German government last Friday provides for only a few exceptions and no special regulations for professional athletes," the statement read.

"The Federal Police informed the club RB Leipzig today that the described case constellation does not fall under the exceptions."

German residents and citizens are exempt from the ruling, meaning that Klopp and Joel Matip may be cleared to travel, but the rest of the Liverpool squad? No such luck.

Fortunately, every year UEFA select a neutral venue for exceptional circumstances such as this. For 2020/21, the Puskas Arena in Budapest gets that honour, and seems likely to host the game.

Like Germany, Hungary have a blanket ban on UK citizens entering the country, but are a little more lax with exceptions. The UK government website notes an extensive list of circumstances in which nationals can apply for a 'pre-travel exemption', and that includes "participation in a sporting, cultural or church event of major international importance."

A Champions League last 16 tie probably qualifies.

It's worth noting that a re-arranged tie would still count as the first leg, even if played at a neutral venue. Leipzig may then wish to hold off until a later date to see if the tie can be played at their stadium.

It would be a tight turnaround though - the second leg is due to take place at Anfield on 10 March, and UEFA have set a deadline of 2 April for last 16 ties to be played to their completion. Should Leipzig fail to fulfil their home fixture in that time, they would forfeit the match and grant Liverpool a 3-0 win.

Source : 90min