With a much-changed lineup for Sunday’s match against Stoke City, it was clear that Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was worried about keeping players fresh for Thursday’s decisive Europa League match against Borussia Dortmund at Anfield.
He wasn’t the only manager with such concerns, as Dortmund counterpart Thomas Tuchel changed eight of his starters on Sunday when his side took on Schalke. While Liverpool still got their result, things didn’t go quite as well for Tuchel’s charges, who drew 2-2 in their game.
"It was down to the double burden we have," said the Dortmund manager when asked about the changed eleven and disappointing result, one that sees his side slip further behind Bayern Munich—Dortmund now sit six back with five to play—in the race for the Bundesliga title.
"I thought hard about my starting eleven for today very early on, as this was our 48th game of this season and we’re reaching our limit. It was a lot of changes, but with all the analysis we did, it felt like a good idea and we were still able to make good changes after a hour."
While Dortmund were playing their 48th game of the season, Liverpool were taking part in their 52nd of the 2015-16 season, making it unlikely that Klopp will have much sympathy for the situation of the man who took over from him at the Westfalenstadion last summer.
Fixture overload comes with being in a top league and challenging for silverware domestically and in Europe, but with two domestic competitions to most federations’ one and no winter break, English sides in the Europa and Champions League have it worse than most.
Regardless, both sides should go into Thursday with similarly rested starting elevens after their changes on the weekend. With the number of matches both teams have played and much-changed starting lineups on Sunday, tiredness shouldn’t be an excuse for either side.