Barcelona are prepared to use Antoine Griezmann in a deal to land Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar, 28, has constantly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, but ended up staying at PSG during the last close season.

It seems Barcelona will pursue the Brazil international again and they may be prepared to offer Griezmann in a deal.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO OFFER GRIEZMANN TO PSG IN NEYMAR DEAL

Despite it proving such an ordeal to sign Griezmann in the first place, Barca will try to use him as a makeweight in a deal to land Neymar, according to Sky Sports.

The report says the Spanish giants are prepared to let Griezmann go just one season after signing him from Atletico Madrid, as they reportedly also target Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

Barca will try to sell the forward elsewhere if PSG are not interested, the story claims, with the Frenchman underwhelming since his switch to Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are apparently preparing for a battle with Germany. The Mirror reports Germany see Jurgen Klopp – contracted at Anfield until 2024 – as a successor to coach Joachim Low.

Manchester United remain interested in Erling Haaland. ESPN claims the Premier League club are again ready to compete for the forward's services with Real Madrid if the Norway international decides to leave Borussia Dortmund.

- Will Gareth Bale remain at Real Madrid? The Mirror suggests the Wales international is ready to fight for his place at the Santiago Bernabeu despite his differences with coach Zinedine Zidane.

Saul Niguez is apparently wanted in the Premier League. AS says Man United are willing to pay around £71million (€80m) for the Atletico midfielder, who has a release clause of £132.5m (€150m).

Barcelona may be prepared to sell players this close season, but Arthur will not be among them. Sport reports the Spanish champions see the midfielder as a key player. Meanwhile, it is also claimed Gent star Jonathan David has been offered to the Blaugrana.

Juventus have reportedly secured the futures of two players. Rai Sport understands Blaise Matuidi has extended his contract with Juve until 2021, while Marko Pjaca – who is on loan at Anderlecht – has agreed to a deal until 2023.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt staging the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid at Anfield without restrictions earlier this month was a "criminal act", according to Carlo Ancelotti.

Everton head coach Ancelotti has spoken with Klopp amid the coronavirus pandemic and said the German had concerns over his side’s continental fixture going ahead in front of a full stadium on March 11.

Liverpool went out of the Champions League after the second leg of their last-16 tie ended in a 4-2 aggregate defeat, their last match before top-level football was widely halted due to the outbreak.

Ancelotti told Corriere dello Sport: "I heard from Klopp the other day, he told me that going ahead with the game in those conditions was a criminal act. I think he was right."

Former Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Milan boss Ancelotti predicts there will be an economic "downsizing" after the virus has passed, with football feeling the effects of that.

"We are all living a life that we were not used to and that will change us profoundly," he said. "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."

Jurgen Klopp was moved to tears after being shown a video of NHS workers singing a rendition of Liverpool club anthem 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

Footage of the healthcare staff swaying their arms from side to side as they chanted the song was posted on social media this week.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to gather pace across the world, Britain united as one on Thursday to thank those who are battling to save lives.

And Liverpool boss Klopp has praised the "extraordinary" work being done by nurses, doctors, carers and other medical professionals in testing circumstances.

"My English is not good enough to say. It's extraordinary, it's great," he told Liverpool's official website. 

"I think yesterday I was sent a video of people in the hospital just outside the intensive care area and when they started singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' I started crying immediately. 

"It's unbelievable. But it shows everything, these people not only work but they have such a good spirit. They are used to helping other people, we need to get used to it because usually we have our own problems and stuff. 

"But it's their job, they do it day in and day out. They bring themselves, if you want, in danger because they help ill, sick and seriously handicapped people, so I couldn't admire them more and appreciate it more, I really couldn't."

The COVID-19 outbreak has wreaked havoc on the sporting calendar, with Liverpool being made to wait for a maiden Premier League crown and first top-flight title since 1990.

Klopp's men are two victories away from lifting the title, but the German coach insists football does not matter at a time like this.

"We said it now often enough, and I think everybody knows, football is not the most important thing in the world," he said. "One hundred per cent not. In this moment it's clear what is. 

"But the only way to get football back as soon as possible, if that's what the people want, the more disciplined we are now the earlier we will get, piece by piece by piece, our life back. 

"That's how it is. There is no other solution in the moment, nobody has another solution. We have to be disciplined by ourselves, we have to keep the distance to other people.

"In 10, 20, 30, 40 years, if we look back and then the conclusion is that this was the period when the world showed the biggest solidarity, the biggest love, the biggest friendship or whatever, that would be great, that would be really great."

The varied character traits of Jurgen Klopp have been laid bare by a one-time colleague who described the Liverpool boss as "crazy" and "egocentric", but also "special".

Those are the words of former Borussia Dortmund physiotherapist Frank Zollner, who was at the Bundesliga club for 17 years and worked with Klopp at Signal Iduna Park.

Klopp has since guided Liverpool to a Champions League title and, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, was on the brink of delivering the Reds’ first top-flight crown in 30 years.

Reflecting on his experiences with Klopp, Zollner recalled a man with a changing temperament.

"He's a special guy," Zollner told Goal and SPOX of Klopp. "There were so many days when you'd think: 'Great guy!', but sometimes you'd think: 'What an egocentric!'.

"One time, Jakub Blaszczykowski called me when he was coming back from the [Poland] national team. He said he couldn't train because of a muscle injury but would still come to the team meeting.

"Before the meeting, I went to Klopp with Kuba [Blaszczykowski] and told him what was going on. He then went pretty crazy, probably because he had only just learned about Kuba's injury at that moment.

"Zeljko Buvac [Klopp's former assistant] would often appear at such moments and say: 'Kloppo, smoke a cigarette now and calm down!'. He was one of the best assistant coaches I've ever worked under. But Kloppo had the balls to apologise when the way he treated someone was too much."

Liverpool have donated £40,000 to Fans Supporting Foodbanks (FSF) to help keep the charity ticking over during the Premier League hiatus.

Jurgen Klopp's men are 25 points clear at the top and need just two wins to secure their first Premier League title, but no more fixtures will be played until at least early April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result of the prolonged break, no collections for FSF – a charity set up to support the city's most vulnerable -– will take place at Anfield for the foreseeable future.

However, Liverpool announced on Saturday their players, along with the LFC Foundation, Red Neighbours and club staff, will step in by making a large donation to North Liverpool Foodbank.

Twenty-five per-cent of the charity's donations come from matchday collections and Liverpool will donate £10,000 per game for their four remaining home matches.

New foodbank collection points have also been set up at the club's stores around the city and an online fundraising page set up.

"We hope the collective backing of the club’s first-team players, LFC Foundation and Red Neighbours programmes, and staff, can help to alleviate concerns around the absence of the usual matchday collections," said LFC Foundation director Matt Parish.

"Our fans have consistently gone above and beyond in their backing for Fans Supporting Foodbanks in recent years and we would encourage anyone who is able to make a donation at any of our collection points or via the online fundraiser."

Liverpool's donation follows on from an open letter penned by Klopp to the club's supporters on Thursday, in which the former Borussia Dortmund coach told fans: "First and foremost, all of us have to do whatever we can to protect one another. In society I mean.

"This should be the case all the time in life, but in this moment I think it matters more than ever.

"I've said before that football always seems the most important of the least important things. Today, football and football matches really aren't important at all.

"If it's a choice between football and the good of the wider society, it's no contest. Really, it isn't.

"The message from the team to our supporters is only about your well-being. Put your health first. Don't take any risk. Think about the vulnerable in our society and act where possible with compassion for them."

The coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar on Saturday with more major events and competitions being disrupted.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the globe, it has resulted in the postponement of competitions worldwide as governments attempt to combat the pandemic.

A small number of events still went ahead, but sports stars, teams and indeed supporters were otherwise left to find other means of entertainment.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 155,000, we round up all the latest news and updates.

 

Germany's prestige friendly with Italy later this month became the latest football fixture to bite the dust, with the majority of upcoming international matches having now been wiped out.

More major organisations have halted all footballing activities until a later date, including Qatar, Morocco and Egypt.

A small number of competitions, most notably the A-League, Russian Premier League and Mexico's Liga MX, did manage to go ahead as planned.

Indeed, NRL games also avoided the cut, as did a handful of Super Rugby matches before an indefinite ban was put in place later in the day.

Another competition to fall was Australia's one-day international series against New Zealand, which was already being played behind closed doors.

With New Zealand's government introducing strict protocols to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the Black Caps – along with Super Rugby side Highlanders – returned home from Australia and Argentina respectively in order to beat the new restrictions, which will mean any new arrival to the country, even if they are a citizen, has to self-isolate for 14 days.

With the top-four tiers of English football being shelved until at least early April, there was plenty of focus on the National League as six games were given the green light.

There was some controversy in Argentina as River Plate's Copa Superliga clash with Atletico Tucuman was suspended after the home side refused to open their stadium.

Independiente's tie with Velez Sarsfield was played out in full, albeit behind closed doors, with the hosts claiming a 1-0 victory.

In Italy, Napoli urged their supporters to sing from their balconies in unison as Fiorentina's Patrick Cutrone and two more Sampdoria players tested positive for COVID-19.

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy revealed a negative test result after recently self-isolating, but Carlo Ancelotti and Angelo Ogbonna questioned the Premier League's handling of the outbreak, while Jordan Pickford denied reports he is self-isolating.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, meanwhile, claimed the competition should be "void" – a suggestion Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher quickly dismissed.

The lack of football did not stop certain clubs from keeping supporters entertained, though, with LaLiga side Leganes posting live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, which they won 2-1.

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton got Manchester City involved in an online game of noughts and crosses to help fill the void.

The downtime also gave football stars a chance to recuperate, with Sergio Ramos and Alexis Sanchez among those to post images of their extra-curricular activities.

Others, such as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, opted to use social media to educate their followers on how to properly wash their hands, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi used his profile to echo the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations.

As Ronaldo and Jurgen Klopp were praised by the World Health Organisation for "protecting people from coronavirus", former United States president Barack Obama hailed a host of NBA stars – including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson – for donating large amounts to help support arena staff during the league's hiatus.

UFC superstar Conor McGregor labelled the pandemic "a stupid f****** virus", but later moved to clarify his aunt did not die after contracting the disease after previously suggesting as such.

And in more positive news, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe revealed his country still plan for the 2020 Olympic Games to go ahead in Tokyo, starting in late July.

The International Olympic Committee will have the final say, but ABE is confident the Games will be staged "without problem".

Jurgen Klopp, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba received a message of thanks from World Health Organisation director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for "promoting health and protecting people from coronavirus".

The Ethiopian politician and academic paid tribute to the trio, along with others from the world of sport who have called for individuals to take responsibility for limiting the spread of the pandemic.

Ronaldo posted a message on Twitter in which he urged his followers to "follow the advice of the WHO", while Klopp told Liverpool supporters to "think about the vulnerable in our society and act where possible with compassion for them".

Pogba told his 39.7 million Instagram followers to "dab to beat coronavirus" - as part of advice to cough or sneeze into your elbow rather than hands - while he also shared WHO resources.

"Thank you Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool FC for your powerful message to the world," Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter.

"Put people's health first, reduce risks, care for the vulnerable and compassion: this is the WHO way.

"We will win the fight against COVID-19 if we are working together.

"The WHO is grateful for the solidarity being shown by Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool FC, Alisson Becker, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, FIFA, Peter Schmeichel, Andrea Radrizzani, Romain Grosjean and others in the world of sport."

The sporting calendar over the next few weeks looks extremely bare as events continue to be postponed or cancelled as a result of the threat of the coronavirus.

All of Europe's top five leagues have now been suspended, as the Bundesliga followed Serie A, LaLiga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League in calling a halt to proceedings just hours before its latest round of fixtures was due to kick off.

Golf's first major, the Masters, will not take place on April 9 as initially scheduled, while the Giro d'Italia, the final Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland, and marathons in London and Boston have all been affected by COVID-19, too.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 140,000, we take a look at the latest round of postponements.

 

After the PGA Tour cancelled all events leading up the Masters, all eyes were on whether the prestigious event at Augusta National Golf Club would be called off until further notice. That news arrived on Friday, with organisers saying it was "appropriate under these unique circumstances".

With around four hours to go before the first Bundesliga game of matchday 26, the league was finally suspended due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Germany.

Defender Timo Hubers, who plays for 2. Bundesliga side Hannover, was one of the first players across Europe to test positive for the virus, and Paderborn, who had been due to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday night, were waiting on tests results for their players when news came down from the league.

Clubs will meet again on Monday, with the league advising a suspension until April 2.

World Cup qualifiers in Africa were suspended, while European clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have stopped their players from training at their facilities for the time being.

As Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba encouraged people to "dab to beat coronavirus" and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp backed the decision to postpone the Premier League, Serie A clubs Sampdoria and Fiorentina reported positive cases involving their players in Italy, one of the worst-affected countries.

The country's major cycling race, the Giro d'Italia, will not begin as scheduled on May 9 as Hungary said it was unwilling to host the first three stages. The whole race was subsequently postponed.

Six Nations contest between Italy and England in Rome, originally slated for Saturday, had already been called off, and the only fixture of the tournament not to be postponed was put back indefinitely on Friday. Wales' clash with Scotland in Cardiff was finally called off the day before it was set to take place, while Sunday's Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins has also been postponed.

South Africa's ODI tour of India will be rescheduled for another time, the first match having been washed out on Thursday, while the Boston Marathon will now take place on September 14. The new date for the London Marathon is October 4.

Elsewhere, NASCAR has postponed races in Atlanta and Miami over the next two weekends. Those races were initially going to be held without fans. All IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has backed the Premier League's decision to postpone fixtures amid the spread of coronavirus.

On Friday, all Premier League and English Football League matches were postponed until April 3 at the earliest in an attempt to combat the global pandemic.

The decision came after meetings involving league officials and club representatives, which followed on from news that Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi have tested positive for the virus.

Liverpool's players and staff have voluntarily, temporarily suspended activity at Melwood training ground, while neighbours Everton – who were due to host the Reds in the Merseyside derby on Monday – have closed all of their facilities after a member of the first-team squad reported symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

Now Klopp, whose side lead the way by 25 points in the Premier League, has insisted he supports the call to suspend the schedule.

"First and foremost, all of us have to do whatever we can to protect one another. In society I mean," Klopp wrote in a statement released on Liverpool's official website.

"This should be the case all the time in life, but in this moment I think it matters more than ever.

"I've said before that football always seems the most important of the least important things. Today, football and football matches really aren't important at all.

"Of course, we don't want to play in front of an empty stadium and we don't want games or competitions suspended, but if doing so helps one individual stay healthy – just one – we do it no questions asked.

"If it's a choice between football and the good of the wider society, it's no contest. Really, it isn't.

"The decision is being implemented with the motive of keeping people safe. Because of that we support it completely. We have seen members of teams we compete against become ill. This virus has shown that being involved in football offers no immunity."

Liverpool exited the Champions League, which has now been postponed, to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, but are on course to win their maiden Premier League title, and a first top-flight championship since 1989-90.

However, it remains to be seen how the Premier League – which pledged to complete the season if possible – will be able to conclude the campaign.

"None of us know in this moment what the final outcome will be, but as a team we have to have belief that the authorities make decisions based on sound judgement and morality," Klopp continued.

"I think in the present moment, with so many people around our city, the region, the country and the world facing anxiety and uncertainty, it would be entirely wrong to speak about anything other than advising people to follow expert advice and look after themselves and each other.

The message from the team to our supporters is only about your well-being. Put your health first. Don't take any risk. Think about the vulnerable in our society and act where possible with compassion for them."

Jurgen Klopp refused to blame Adrian for Liverpool's loss to Atletico Madrid, but admitted the goalkeeper's mistake had a "big impact".

Liverpool's Champions League defence came to an end on Wednesday after a 3-2 extra-time loss at Anfield sealed a 4-2 aggregate success for Atletico.

But the Premier League giants appeared on track for the quarter-finals after goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino, only for a poor clearance from Adrian to lead to Marcos Llorente's goal for Atletico.

Llorente added a second before Alvaro Morata's late sealer as Liverpool were beaten at home in the Champions League for the first time since 2014.

Despite Adrian's mistake, Klopp was unwilling to blame the shot-stopper, but said the 33-year-old was aware of his error.

"He's a man and he knows that's how it is," the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

"We will not blame him for a second – what you do, I don't know, but stay respectful, that would be really nice because he didn't want to do that, he saved us in so many moments when he played. Since he's here, he had super performances.

"This goal didn't help tonight but that's how it is. I said, if you lose a game you always lose for some [different] reasons. Tonight, this was not the moment when we lost the game, but it had a big impact.

"We should not say it was not like this because it was obvious, but that's it. We conceded more goals after that and we didn't score the goals in other situations. We had plenty of reasons why we didn't go through.

"How it is in life, especially when your job is in public, people judge you. But he's a man, a grown man, and he will deal with that. We will help him with that but I don't think he needs it, to be honest."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will respect any decisions made by authorities regarding the coronavirus outbreak and was unhappy at being asked whether he was worried about his players being exposed.

Klopp told reporters ahead of Wednesday's Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against Atletico Madrid he would accept any decision taken relating to holding fixtures behind closed doors.

Fans will be present for Liverpool's clash with Atletico, but elsewhere in Europe all Serie A matches have been halted until next month while a host of other leagues are playing matches without supporters.

"Whatever will be decided, we will respect," Klopp said about the prospect of matches being played behind closed doors. 

"It's clear that we will accept that but I don't know how much sense it will make in this moment.

"We need time to find a solution. How can we get that time and avoid different situations? I don't know enough about how much [closing stadiums] for the football games could help.

"The problem is if you are not in the stadium then you are in close rooms and watching it maybe together, I am not sure what is better in this case – I mean that.

"It's not about me as a manager, it's about being a human being. Some things are more important than football and we realise that in this moment. We all have families, friends, kids, parents who we want to be well." 

After answering initial questions on the virus, Klopp took exception to being asked by a Madrid-based reporter whether he was worried about his players.

Klopp said: "Are you from Madrid? Are you concerned in your city? 

"Playing football is not special, it is just a game, we are not the society, we are part of it and we should all be worried at the same time.

"That's exactly the thing I don’t like, you sit there and ask this, but fly from Madrid to here. They are closing schools and universities and you are obviously concerned, and that is the question. But you think now football is worth travelling for.

"It is our common problem and we cannot sort it with football. We play football, that is our part, what we have to do.

"Your job is to transport information and I hope you do it better than you ask questions. It really gets me angry when you ask me a question and suggest I have a problem that you don't have. We have all the same problem. 

"You talk to people every day to people from close range which I don't do, so are you worried? The players at the moment are all healthy. What we do with not shaking hands is setting a sign, not [because players are more at risk]. 

"It's good for you and it is good for me not to shake hands. It's a sign for society, for everyone. Are we all not in the same boat?"

Neymar is back in the Brazil squad for their first World Cup qualifiers, but goalkeeper Alisson is missing despite only being ruled out for a week by Liverpool with a hip injury.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed on Friday that Alisson is set to miss the Reds' next two matches against Bournemouth and Atletico Madrid after sustaining a hip problem in training.

Klopp said the situation will be clear after next week, but Brazil have left him off their list for matches against Bolivia and Peru, to be played on March 28 and April 1, respectively.

Brazil coach Tite confirmed in his news conference Alisson has been excluded from the selection due to injury.

Neymar returns, however, after he missed their previous matches in November due to fitness issues of his own, though Tite seemed frustrated when asked about the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

"Hopefully all high-level athletes are at their best and that I have to answer 300 questions about why one player and not the other," he said.

"I want to have difficult decisions all the time, that everyone is in good form, Neymar included."

Notable inclusions are Bruno Guimaraes, Felipe and Everton Ribeiro.

Lyon midfielder Bruno Guimaraes is in line for his first cap, Felipe is hoping to get only his second and Flamengo's Everton Ribeiro has not represented the Selecao since the 2015 Copa America.

"In the case of Everton, he returns because he has great form in his creative process," Tite said. "Bruno Guimaraes had a great championship last year for Athletico Paranaense, we followed him in the Under-23s and in Lyon, this consolidates, strengthens.

"It is likewise with Felipe. We followed two games that were emblematic of Atletico Madrid, against Liverpool and Valencia."

Brazil squad in full:

Weverton (Palmeiras), Ederson (Manchester City), Ivan (Ponte Preta); Dani Alves (Sao Paulo), Danilo (Juventus), Renan Lodi (Atletico Madrid), Alex Sandro (Juventus), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Felipe (Atletico Madrid), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain); Arthur (Barcelona), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Bruno Guimaraes (Lyon), Philippe Coutinho (Bayern Munich), Everton Ribeiro (Flamengo), Fabinho (Liverpool); Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo), Everton (Gremio), Richarlison (Everton), Bruno Henrique (Flamengo).

Virgil van Dijk slammed Liverpool's doubters after the critics came out in force following a run of three defeats in four matches.

The losses have come in three different competitions, putting Jurgen Klopp's side on the back foot in the last 16 of the Champions League, halting their 44-match unbeaten streak in the Premier League, and ending their FA Cup participation. 

A 2-0 reverse at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday left the top-flight title as the only domestic honour available to the Reds, which Van Dijk pointedly suggested is no small thing.

"In life there are people who are never satisfied. They are always looking for negative things. That's the reality," he said, as quoted by the Daily Mirror. 

"Either you go on with that negative spirit or you just focus on the good things – and I'm definitely focusing on the good things.

"We are in a very good situation. Close to what we all hope to achieve. Let's just go for it, enjoy it. Let's focus on 'just' the Premier League, because it's very small, huh?"

Responding to the notion that Liverpool had not been that bothered about winning the FA Cup, particularly in light of playing a reserve team in the fourth-round replay against Shrewsbury Town, Van Dijk was emphatic.

"That's stupid to say, in my opinion," said the Dutchman. "Every competition we play in, we want to win.

"We showed that against Chelsea with the line-up and the way we kept going, the energy we put in. We tried to do as much as possible to win the game."

Jurgen Klopp put Liverpool's recent dip down to defensive issues after their FA Cup run came to an end at Chelsea on Tuesday.

The Reds went down 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, an error from Adrian – standing in for first-choice goalkeeper Alisson – allowing Willian to open the scoring before Ross Barkley added a second after the break.

Liverpool had also lost 3-0 at Watford on Saturday, their first reverse in the Premier League this season, and have now conceded two or more goals in three consecutive matches for the first time since 2016.

Joe Gomez's return to the starting XI next to Virgil van Dijk failed to shore things up at the back against Chelsea, though Klopp is not too concerned by a run of just one win in four outings.

"Look, it went our way for so long because we defended outstandingly," he said.

"Usually you don't get a lot of chances against us and stuff like this, but now we have to admit that in the last three games – [maybe] four – we have conceded absolutely too many goals, that's true.

"I am not worried about the momentum – momentum is not something you get as a present, you have to get it to keep it. We have always a chance to get it back.

"I am not concerned about the momentum, but it is football and we never thought it would be an easy season, it would be an easy period, it would be an easy game tonight. Nothing, it was always clear it would be difficult – it was always clear it was difficult.

"We did very well, but tonight not good enough in decisive moments and that's what we have to accept."

Kepa Arrizabalaga made a triple save to deny Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and Curtis Jones in quick succession when Chelsea only led 1-0, though Liverpool failed to muster an on-target attempt in the second half.

Still, Klopp was pleased enough with the display, particularly after he had rotated his squad by making seven changes to the starting line-up.

"The performance tonight was completely different at Watford," the German said. "Against Watford it was really bad, tonight it was not bad.

"It was a really super-intense game. We made seven changes and we knew it would be intense and that's why we made the changes because it was clear a lot of sprints, spaces in midfield.

"How Chelsea plays, how we want to play, it was clear you need accelerations constantly. They offer that constantly and that's why we had to make the changes, or we thought we have to make them.

"That performance tonight, I am not concerned about [it]. That's football, if you make decisive mistakes then you lose football games."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he would be a "real idiot" to doubt his players after their unbeaten Premier League streak came to an end.

Saturday's shock 3-0 loss at struggling Watford dashed Liverpool's hopes of going through the Premier League season undefeated – snapping a 44-match unbeaten run.

Liverpool, though, remain 22 points clear atop the table and on track to claim their first league crown since 1990.

And Klopp is retaining the faith in his squad ahead of Tuesday's FA Cup fifth-round showdown against Chelsea in London.

"I am not a little bit in doubt about the character of the boys and I would be a real idiot if I would be because they deserve my trust, my faith, and they don't lose it after a bad game," he said.

"It can happen that I get angry but I didn't get angry with the players in this meeting. If I go in that meeting and shout at them like they have lost the last 10 games because of a bad attitude that would be really strange. I am not interested that after the meeting I feel better. I am interested in the boys getting the right information.

"The situation we are in is special. Who can give us advice? Could I say that is the way we have to deal with it because I was there 20 times before and we dealt with it like this and it always worked out? No.

"I was never in a situation like that. We came through an incredible long period with incredible performances, sensational football, wonderful goals and great success until this point.

"There is a reason for losing a game and I prefer seeing the reason than not knowing why. It was not that the fortunes changed or that destiny wanted to give us a knock. We were just not good enough. That is the easy answer and that is filled with a lot of information that the boys get but not too much because we don’t want to think about that game for too long."

 

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