Liverpool barred from Germany for CL match

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Germany will not allow Liverpool into the country to play a Champions League game at RB Leipzig on February 16 because of border restrictions imposed over new variants of the coronavirus.

The German Interior Ministry confirmed on Thursday that an application by Leipzig for special permission for Liverpool to enter the country was refused by federal police.

That means the game, the first leg of the round of 16, can't be played as scheduled in Leipzig.

The German club could ask UEFA to move the game to a neutral venue.

Switching the order of the legs so that the 2019 champions Liverpool play at home first could also be an option, but would likely require Leipzig's players and staff to go into quarantine on their return to Germany from Britain.

UEFA is open to delaying games affected by travel bans. On Tuesday, it set April 2 as the latest possible date to finish last-16 games in time for the quarterfinals.

Germany is blocking most arrivals of non-residents from Britain to restrict the spread of new variants of the virus.

If the travel restrictions, which don't contain any exemptions for sports, are extended beyond the current expiry date of February 17, Manchester City's first-leg trip to play Borussia Monchengladbach on February 24 could also be affected.

In the Europa League, Arsenal's home and away games against Benfica may be affected by British restrictions on travel to and from Portugal.