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Uefa Should Have Postponed Europa Tie – Benitez

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Boss Rafael Benitez says Uefa should have postponed Liverpool's match at Atletico Madrid on Thursday given the travel chaos afflicting Europe.

The Reds left Merseyside by train on Tuesday for their Europa League semi-final 1,200 miles away.

And Benitez said: “In these special circumstances it could be better to postpone the game but we have to go.”

Fulham also face a difficult 11-hour trip by coach and Eurotunnel to Hamburg in Germany for their first leg tie.

Liverpool will re-evaluate their plans hourly and are also concerned about getting to Burnley for Sunday's match in the Premier League. LIVE UPDATES

The camera crews and autograph hunters are packed along the platform, peering in through the windows. It's going to be a challenge boarding

BBC Sport's Ian Dennis, travelling with the Liverpool squad to Madrid

Uefa took the decision to press ahead with the first-leg ties despite the Europe-wide travel chaos caused by the Icelandic cloud of volcanic dust.

While the London club's boss Roy Hodgson feels for 2,500 ticket-holding fans who are attempting to make the journey, Benitez is trying to make sure his players are in the right frame of mind for Thursday.

“We had some time yesterday to rest the players. It will not be ideal but we will try to do the best for the players,” added the Spaniard.

Liverpool will aim to be as flexible as possible as they work out the best way of making their journey.

They intend to spend Tuesday night in Paris. From there they will fly direct to Madrid if northern French airspace is open. When I was playing we were doing 12 to 14 hours by coach. Now you expect something more comfortable

Rafael Benitez
If not, as seems likely, they will leave Paris on Wednesday morning and travel to Bordeaux by train. From there they can take a flight to Madrid, as Bordeaux airport is functioning.

“We will go to London and see what can happen. Maybe then the airports will be open and maybe we can fly from there,” stated Benitez.

“We have the organisation for coming back as soon as possible but anyway it will be Saturday – which is not the best for the Premier League game.

“If the airports are open maybe we can fly directly but at this moment it is more difficult to come back than it is to go.

“We are assessing things hour by hour. We have two or three options going and at this moment just one coming back but we will see if we can improve that.” 606: DEBATE

Travelling from university down to Hamburg, leaving at midnight tonight, ferry at 8am tomorrow and then a trek through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, a 1,572-mile round trip

Edward
Benitez suggested the journey would be a throwback to his playing days in the 1980s with various second and third division clubs in Spain.

“When I was playing we were doing 12 to 14 hours by coach. Now you expect something more comfortable,” he said.

Liverpool are at least coming into the match on the back of a comprehensive win in the Premier League, after beating West Ham 3-0 at home on Monday.

And in Atletico – 10th in La Liga – they are playing a team who on paper are inferior to the Reds' previous Europa League opponents, Portuguese table-toppers Benfica.

Fulham were intending to fly to the northern German city by private jet on Wednesday morning before taking part in a training session at Hamburg's ground.

Benitez boards a train at Runcorn as Liverpool start their marathon trip

But that plan has now been scuppered, and instead they will Fulham will travel by road, first boarding a luxury coach to Folkestone on Tuesday.

They will then take the Eurotunnel to Calais before driving to Hamburg on the same coach. It is anticipated that the approximate 600-mile journey will take between 10 and 12 hours to complete.

Should they not be able to fly the team would make a 10-hour journey from their training ground in Surrey to Hamburg, including a 35-minute crossing via Eurotunnel.

Their opponents, seventh in the Bundesliga, were beaten 1-0 by Mainz on Saturday.

The Premier League says it has not received any requests from Liverpool or Fulham to postpone their matches on Sunday.

Liverpool travel to Burnley and Fulham must go to Everton, less than 72 hours after playing in Madrid and Hamburg.

A Premier League spokesman said: “We have had no request from either club for the games to be rescheduled and we have no suggestion they cannot fulfil the fixtures.”

Fulham, who are comfortably mid-table, may consider playing a team of reserves and youth team players at Goodison Park but Liverpool are still gunning for the final Champions' League spot.