La Liga have postponed this weekend’s matches involving Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid due to an extension in World Cup qualifying.
It is a decision which is likely to frustrate Liverpool, whose early Premier League kick-off on Saturday against Watford is around 36 hours after Brazil take on Uruguay in Manaus in a qualification match.
The news comes as the Reds are joining forces with several league rivals including Manchester City and Manchester United to organise a private jet – costing a six-figure sum – to ensure their South American stars get back to England on time.
Liverpool pair Alisson and Fabinho alongside United’s Edinson Cavani and Fred, City’s Ederson and Gabriel Jesus, Chelsea’s Thiago Silva and Douglas Luiz of Aston Villa alongside Leeds winger Raphinha are among the impacted players.
Yet the Spanish top-flight sides will have no such worries as Real Madrid’s game against Athletic Bilbao alongside Atletico Madrid’s clash with Granada have both been pushed back.
The Spanish Superior Sports Council granted La Liga’s request on Wednesday as both of the Spanish capital clubs would have been without crucial players due to the travelling rules.
Real Madrid’s trio of Eder Militao, Vinicius Junior (both Brazil) and Fede Valverde (Uruguay) would all have been unavailable for the game, while Atleti would have been without Argentina duo Rodrigo de Paul and Angel Correa along with their star striker Luis Suarez, of Uruguay.
Other European giants will have to carry on without their stars; Paris Saint-Germain will have to plan for their Ligue 1 clash against Angers on Friday without Lionel Messi, Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Leandro Paredes.
Premier League clubs now also face a late selection headache with a host of players facing a race against the clock in a rapid turnaround between international and club football.
Only 35 hours separates the end of Brazil’s match and the commencement of the Reds games against Watford – impacting Alisson and Fabinho – while City, United, Leeds and Aston Villa are all 3pm kick-offs later that day.
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Chelsea meanwhile have 40 hours from Brazil’s clash until they host Brentford in a west London derby on Saturday evening.
The Mail report that the impacted clubs are coming together to arrange flights will be socially distanced with passengers all wearing masks as Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay have all been removed from the UK’s red list – which is now down to seven nations, with quarantining no longer being mandatory.
That means that United striker Cavani, along with Newcastle’s Miguel Almiron and Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Romero of Tottenham, will not be subject to spending 10 days in isolation.
Yet the swift turnaround time means that many players are facing the prospect of playing two matches that are just 48 hours apart or less, which had led to criticism on the lack of flexibility.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher called it an “integrity” problem in his Telegraph column, claiming that the matchday had been “undermined due to avoidable, external circumstances”.
Carragher wrote: “It is inexcusable that Fifa has allowed World Cup qualifiers to be scheduled at such a time which means the clubs paying the players’ salaries – in some cases around £250,000 a week – cannot reasonably use them in an important domestic match.”
The nine Brazilian players will have to quarantine – outside of matches and training – upon returning to the UK while Colombian defender Davinson Sanchez (Tottenham) and Yerry Mina (Everton) will also have to quarantine.