Sport can sometimes be about tough choices, many of which are forced upon you, and Liverpool might just have to focus on the Premier League if Bayern Munich can knock them out of the Champions League tonight.
When the draw was made Liverpool were the strong favourites – they were leading the Premier League whilst Bayern were being left for dust in the Bundesliga. However, many changes over the winter and whilst Liverpool have been struggling for fluency, Bayern are suddenly finding their groove for the first time under Nico Kovac.
For many the first leg was a disappointment given the attacking talents that both had but Liverpool have struggled going forward in the calendar year and that goalless draw at Anfield summed up their struggles. Sadio Mane had the best of the chances in the first leg but otherwise the Germans ought to be happy with their position here.
Since then Bayern, who look much improved since the turn of the year anyway, have put themselves back in the driving seat for the Bundesliga with three straight wins. The last two of those was a 5-1 win at Mönchengladbach, when they had 14 shots on target that could have given them an even greater winning margin, and the next was a 6-0 trashing of Wolfsburg.
Kovac’s men look to have found a formation that follows them, with the press being involved from a 4-2-3-1, and such aggressive tactics brought the best out of James Rodgriez, Serge Gnabry and Thiago.
Those three fall behind the brilliant Robert Lewandowski, who have two goals apiece in this last two outings, and there’s a free flowing nature around the side that Kovac has struggled with.
Liverpool have been nearly perfect at home in the Champions League but two weeks ago they were stifled and shut down effectively by a well marshalled rear guard and the idea that they’re not quite finding the final ball as they used to was hammered home by draws against big rivals Manchester United and Everton, when they had control for the large parts of both games but lacked the fluency to turn draws into wins.
They managed to get back to winning ways with a crucial win against Burnley, but the front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino have been lacking the fluency that they showed during the first half of the season and the Reds’ midfield which has done a much better job of protecting their defence, has come up short in creative stakes recently.
The first leg ended goalless, keeping this tie finely balanced, but since then we have seen more of what feels like the real Bayern Munich and at the Allianz they have the home advantage against a Liverpool side that has travelled dreadfully in comparison to their home form.
Bayern Munich v Liverpool
UEFA Champions League Last-16 2nd Leg
20:00 BT Sport 2 / BT Sport 4K UHD
HEAD TO HEAD RECORD
(Maximum 10 matches, since 2000)
FEB 2019 CHAMPIONS LEAGUE Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich
AUG 2001 EUROPEAN SUPER CUP Bayern Munich 2-3 Liverpool
APR 1981 EUROPEAN CUP Bayern Munich 1-1 Liverpool
APR 1981 EUROPEAN CUP Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich
NOV 1971 EURO CUP WINNERS’ CUP Bayern Munich 3-1 Liverpool
OCT 1971 EURO CUP WINNERS’ CUP Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich
MAR 1971 FAIRS CUP Bayern Munich 1-1 Liverpool
MAT 1971 FAIRS CUP Liverpool 3-0 Bayern Munich
They have lost all three of their games on the road in Europe, with their only goal coming from a penalty against PSG, and one has to put Bayern Munich in that admittedly high calibre of opposition here. If the Germans can grip the midfield battle like they have in recent matches, then they can take advantage of Liverpool’s misfires in attack and keep themselves in the hunt for an incredibly open Champions League.
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