Ancelotti: Klopp told me going ahead with the Liverpool vs Atletico game was a criminal act

The Everton boss also gave his thoughts on the delay of football amid the coronavirus outbreak and whether the players will struggle when they return

Carlo Ancelotti has revealed that Jurgen Klopp told him it was a “criminal act” to allow the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid to go ahead.

The Reds lost 3-2 to Diego Simeone’s side on March 11 in what was their final fixture before football was postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak, with Klopp having been seen remonstrating with supporters for trying to shake hands and high-five players and coaches.

The result at Anfield would see the holders exit the competition by a 4-2 aggregate scoreline, although Everton boss Ancelotti says that his Merseyside rival told him that the game shouldn’t have gone ahead given the seriousness of the Covid-19 situation. 

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Referring to the fixture and the fact that the match went ahead without any restrictions on fan attendance, Ancelotti told Corriere dello Sport: “I spoke with Klopp a few days ago, he told me that the decision to play Liverpool-Atletico was a criminal act and I think he’s right.”

The Premier League announced on Friday evening that professional football in England would not be returning before April 30 at the earliest and Ancelotti is not concerned with the delay, insisting that getting back underway is the last thing he is thinking about.

He added: “We are all living a life that we were not used to and that will change us profoundly. I’m sure we will all have to downsize, starting with football.

“Today, the priority is health, limiting the contagion. When you start again, when you finish, the dates… believe me, I don’t care. At the moment, that’s the last thing on my mind.

“I hear talk about cutting salaries, suspension of payments. They seem like inopportune solutions. Soon the economy will change, and that’s at all levels: The TV rights will be less, players and coaches will earn less, tickets will cost less because people will have less money.

“I repeat, what matters now is to fight the virus effectively. Then, of course, if it will be possible to continue the season… otherwise, amen.”

There have been suggestions that players will struggle to meet the demands of Premier League football after having not played for over a month and potentially even longer, although Ancelotti does not think it will be an issue.

The Toffees head coach said: “It makes me laugh, the people who are always talking about the time it will take to prepare [to play again]. There are even those who are talking about three weeks of training. It’s a joke, the preparations are a false myth.

“I remember in 2006, due to the Calciopoli, how Milan fell out of the top four and withdrew from Europe. Then, to help Lazio from being relegated, they took away some of the penalty and we were forced to qualify for the Champions League.

“I had to call the guys who were on their holidays because four days later we would have to play Red Star [Belgrade]. Cafu returned 24 hours prior and played 90 minutes. If you want, I can remind you how it ended in May. But I think you already know that.”

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