Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich: Preview and Team News.
The Champions League returns, and the Reds take on a European giant in Bayern Munich.
Liverpool vs Bayern Munich
| Tuesday, February 19th |
Champions League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
It’s been a ten weeks since Liverpool snuck out of the Champions League group stages by the narrowest possible margin, and two months to the day since they found out they would be facing off with one of the contest’s perennial contenders — and an old rival of manager Jürgen Klopp — Bayern Munich.
Having won the Bundesliga for six consecutive seasons, the Bavarians are, by their standards, having a rough year, sitting in second place, two points off Lucien Favre’s Borussia Dortmund, having played a game more. Bayern have been on a tear recently, however, winning nine out of their last ten, and closing the gap on the league leaders.
The German Champions cruised through the group stages with four wins and two draws, and are, as always, packed full of individual talent, with manager Niko Kovac’s expansive 4-3-3 set up to provide their attack-minded players with as many opportunities as possible. It is worth nothing, however, that die Roten are in the middle of a generational shift, and while mainstays such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are being phased out, the squad is undoubtedly an aging one, with six of their 11 most used players on the wrong side of 30.
Injuries could also be an issue for Bayern, with Robben, Renato Sanches and Corentin Tolisso all missing out, and Kingsley Coman doubtful ahead of their trip to Anfield. The Germans will rely heavily on star striker Robert Lewandowski to get the goals, with the Pole having scored 18 goals more than their second most successful attacker this season.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Matip, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keïta; Mané, Firmino, Salah
That reliance may not be an issue for the Germans, however, as Liverpool have injury troubles of their own, and Lewandowski will be facing off with — at best — the Reds’ third and fourth choice centre-backs. Joe Gomez remains unavailable since his knee surgery, while Virgil van Dijk is suspended, leaving Jurgen Klopp to sweat over the minute-by-minute fitness of Dejan Lovren. Should the experienced Croatian not make it, Fabinho is likely to play alongside Joël Matip as a centre half.
That would see captain Jordan Henderson reinstated in midfield, shielding behind the duo of Georginio Wijnaldum and Naby Keïta who were impressive last weekend against Bournemouth. Former Bayern player Shaqiri has resumed normal training and will be an option should Klopp desire more creativity and aggression.
Up top, the holy trinity of Mane, Firmino and Salah are ever present, and should hopefully thrive in the spaces behind Bayern’s attacking fullbacks.
A tough challenge awaits, then, Hopefully, the Reds returning from their second warm-weather retreat of the year are ready for the game.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “Game by game. Game by game, you cannot think about it in a different way. We have to be focused 100 per cent on the game tomorrow night otherwise we don’t have a chance, that’s absolutely sure.”
Niko Kovač: “I believe we drew the toughest opponent possible. Liverpool are a top side, but so are we. They will also have respect for us. The aim is of course to progress. 100% percent will not be enough tomorrow. If Liverpool give 140%, then we need 150%. It will be a real battle. I cannot imagine that this match will finish goalless.
Projected Bayern Munich line up. 4-3-3.