Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has expressed his frustration with the national team duties his players have, calling the UEFA Nations League the "most senseless competition in the world" ahead of the international break.
Per Miguel Delaney of The Independent, the former Borussia Dortmund coach said he's happy with his team's points total so far before criticising the tournament after the scoreless draw against Manchester City in the Premier League on Sunday:
"If somebody had told me after eight games, 20 points I would say yes but with this fixture list, I would buy it. Now the players go off and play the Nations League which is the most senseless competition in the world. We have to start thinking about the players. You have to call the manager of any country and say can you leave players out and he says I am under pressure as well.
"People asked why this game was less intense. Guys like Jordan (Henderson) only had two weeks after the World Cup."
ESPN UK shared footage of Klopp's post-match press conference:
Klopp also said the decision to award City a penalty was the correct one and that's it's not clear yet how serious James Milner's injury is.
City and Liverpool met in a top-of-the-table clash on Sunday but failed to serve up an exciting encounter. The two sides seemed more concerned with not losing, leading to a somewhat predictable 0-0 outcome. The Sky Blues did miss a penalty through Riyad Mahrez, though.
The result left both teams tied with Chelsea at the top of the standings on 20 points. It's an impressive collection for all three clubs, and their nearest rivals aren't too far back, as noted by sportswriter Colin Millar:
UEFA introduced the Nations League as a new concept in an attempt to make the international break more of an event. Replacing friendlies, it's designed to provide fans with more meaningful contests between teams of equal stature and hand the nations themselves added opportunities to qualify for major tournaments.
The schedule calls for six matchdays between the start of the 2018-19 campaign and November 20, totaling three breaks. On top of that, there's added finals matches in June.
Because there's more at stake, teams are more likely to call up top players instead of youngsters or depth options like they often do for friendlies. UEFA are marketing the Nations League as a serious competition in the hopes it will quickly gain prestige and become a trophy worth fighting for.
Liverpool's next outing will be against Huddersfield Town on October 20. The Reds are winless in their last four outings across all competitions.