Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Klopp hopes Shaqiri omission will defuse local tension

Reports: Klopp Considering Dropping Shaqiri From Belgrade Visit Shaqiri to Miss UCL Clash Against Serbian Team Due to His Albanian Heritage
Kristopher Love | 06 November, 2018, 22:17

The midfielder caused controversy over the summer in the World Cup, after he celebrated scoring a goal with a double-headed eagle gesture, resembling that of the Albanian flag.

He received a fine of £7,600 for doing so, as it risked inflaming tensions in the Balkans, especially among Serbians, who do not recognise Kosovo's independence.

Liverpool will continue their Champions League campaign with a tricky away game against Red Star Belgrade in Serbia on Tuesday afternoon.

The big omission from the Reds' travelling party was forward Xherdan Shaqiri after Klopp made a decision to leave the Swiss star at home.

Liverpool have made a decision to leave Xherdan Shaqiri - who's of Kosovar-Albanian descent- at home to avoid any distractions amid fears of a hostile welcome from the passionate Serbian home support.

Shaqiri comes from an ethnic Albanian family from Kosovo, a former Serbian province.

For that reason Klopp said a pragmatic decision was taken to leave the player at home to allow the focus to remain on football.

"We come here as a football team and we represent one of the biggest football clubs in the world".

"They'll be hoping to use that to their advantage but we know if we play at 100 per cent again then we believe we've got the qualities to get the three points that we need and hopefully quieten the crowd". We have no political message, absolutely not.

One fan said: "Klopp's just created his own story by not bringing shaqiri with this performance".

"[He] understands this. Shaq is our player, we love him, and he will play for us a lot of times, but not on Tuesday".

Red Star Belgrade have conceded just five goals in their past 14 home games in European competition, keeping nine clean sheets in this run.

Liverpool will be preparing for their match against Red Star Belgrade on Tuesday night and it appears Jurgen Klopp will have received a timely boost ahead of the game, according to the club's official website.

Liverpool might have dropped two points in the Premier League away to Arsenal but Klopp will be expecting his side to get back to winning ways in the next two fixtures as Red Star and Fulham prepare to face the Merseysiders.