Wednesday 16 October 2019

Hostile Belgrade reception won't be issue - Shaqiri

Xherdan Shaqiri. Photo: TF-Images/Getty Images
Xherdan Shaqiri. Photo: TF-Images/Getty Images

Chris Bascombe

Xherdan Shaqiri says he has no concerns about travelling to Belgrade for Liverpool's next Champions League fixture even though he is likely to receive a hostile reception due to his Kosovar heritage.

Serbia refuses to recognise Kosovo as an independent state, and Shaqiri became a focus for abuse towards the nation's footballers during the World Cup.

During the competition Switzerland international Shaqiri posted an image of his boots sporting the flag of the nation of his birth on one of his boots and the Swiss flag on the other. It was deemed provocative in Serbia and the memories linger.

Although Red Star Belgrade fans were banned from Anfield on Wednesday night, a few hundred made it into the stadium and they could be heard jeering Shaqiri.

It will be far more intimidating when Liverpool travel to the country on November 6.

"I just go there to play a football game," said Shaqiri. "It is not about politics, it is about football. I worry about nothing and go to play. I had this already at the World Cup so I know I can handle this no problem."

Asked if he had any concern about making the trip, Shaqiri replied: "No. I just saw a few articles where one player said something. I don't really care what people are saying."


Jurgen Klopp said he would gather more information about the controversy.

"So far, I didn't think about it, to be honest. It makes sense that I first think before I speak," he said.

Of more immediate concern to the Liverpool manager will be how Shaqiri is adapting to his new surroundings, his performance in midweek was his most complete since moving from Stoke.

Klopp described Shaqiri's touch for Mohamed Salah's first goal as a moment of "genius".

"I just want to say, 'thank-you' for that," said Shaqiri (below). It is a game where I am trying my best to give him good performances. I need to try to keep going. It is a long season and we want to be successful.

"I think I have the quality and vision to give good passes and you can see today that I wanted to give another good performance.

"I am enjoying the football here and you can see that on the pitch. The most important thing is to win as a team and it was brilliant from everyone."

Shaqiri thinks Klopp will have taken as much pleasure from the manner he won the ball in the build-up to Roberto Firmino's goal.

"I think the coach wanted that," he said.

"He wants us to counter-press and of course from that we score the first goal. He is going to be really proud we scored like that.

"Sometimes it is not simple because the manager changes a few things, but you have to do your best.

"You can see on the pitch we have a lot of good players and creativity and when we are together we can line-up very well. I am proud to have started in the Champions League." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Reds pocket €80m for European run

Liverpool earned more than €80m from their run to the Champions League final last season.

Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea earned more than €55m apiece for reaching the knockout phase, while Manchester United made €40m after their last-16 defeat to Sevilla.

Real Madrid received €88m after lifting the trophy for a third consecutive year.

The fund is divided not only based on progress through the rounds, but depending on how clubs from the same member association fare.

Although Italian club Roma were beaten by Liverpool in the semi-final, they were the second-most-rewarded team in the competition as the best-performing Serie A side in last season's Champions League.

Both they and Juventus earned more than €79m. Italy had just three representatives.

The play-off defeat of Hoffenheim and early exits of RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund also ensured Bayern Munich profited, earning more than €67m.

Liverpool were the third-highest earners from the competition.

Champions League competitors are guaranteed prize money for participation in each stage and then earn more rewards for victories. The prize money increases incrementally as the tournament progresses.

The significant difference between Champions League and Europa League qualification is underlined in the figures as Arsenal earned €37m from their campaign.

In this season's Champions League, group-stage wins are worth €2.6m and draws €900,000.

Irish Independent

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