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Champions League: RB Leipzig and Gladbach to play games in neutral Budapest

RB Leipzig's Champions League game against Liverpool on February 16 will be played in Budapest, as will Borussia Mönchengladbach's match with Manchester City on February 24. Germany is restricting travel from Britain.

A general view of an empty Puskas Arena in Budapest.

RB Leipzig and Liverpool will make the trip to Budapest after Liverpool were denied entry to Germany under coronavirus rules.

RB Leipzig and Borussia Moenchengladbach have confirmed that their Champions League last 16 first legs against Liverpool and Manchester City will be played at the Puskas Arena in Budapest later in February.

The Bundesliga sides discovered last week via Germany's Interior Ministry that the English clubs cannot enter Germany because of coronavirus mutations in Britain.

"The Coronavirus Protection Order agreed by the federal government last Friday envisions only a few exceptions and no special arrangements for professional athletes," the German Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The Leipzig match was set to take place in the eastern German city on February 16 but the German federal police responsible for border control (the Bundespolizei) rejected RB's application for a special permit that would have allowed Jürgen Klopp's team to enter the country.

"The Bundespolizei informed RB Leipzig today that the case does not fall under the category of exceptional circumstances," it said in a statement.

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Budapest over London

UEFA, European football's governing body, decreed that RB Leipzig must find a solution.

Oliver Mintzlaff, the CEO of the club who reached last year's Champions League semi-finals, was also in talks with Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur over the use of their London stadium, but settled on the venue in the Hungarian capital.

Germany has put a stop to almost all arrivals from areas affected by coronavirus mutations until at least February 17, though German citizens and residents are allowed to return to the country from these areas under certain conditions.

Gladbach's game with City on February 24 has also been switched to Budapest with no expectation that German authorities will relax the rules after February 17.


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jsi/msh/mds (AFP, Reuters, AP, SID)

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