Champions League

PREVIEW: Liverpool v Bayern Munich

2019-02-19 09:12
Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp (Getty Images)

Cape Town - In what is arguably the premier tie of the UEFA Champions League last 16, Liverpool play host to Bayern Munich at Anfield on Tuesday night.

While these two sides boast 10 Champions League/European Cup titles between them, they've never met since competition's re-branding in 1992.

The previous time they met in a two-legged tie was in the European Cup semifinal in 1981, when the Mersysiders triumphed on the away goals rule following a 1-1 draw in Germany.

Friendly encounters aside, their most recent meeting was in the 2001 UEFA Super Cup, where Liverpool walked away with the laurels following a 3-2 victory.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp is no stranger to German opposition, having won the Bundesliga twice during his tenure with Borussia Dortmund, the tie will be his counterpart Niko Kovac's first against English opposition.

The form guide suggests that there's little between these two sides: both are in second place in their respective leagues, while suffering one defeat in their last six matches.

In Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool have a devastating front three, but question marks remain at the back. The Reds will be without star defender Virgil van Dijk for the match due to suspension, while Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez are long-term absentees. As such, Fabinho looks set to start alongside Joel Matip in the heart of the defense.

“I think you can see how important he [Van Dijk] is for us as a team,” Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson told the media.

“I think we’ve got enough quality to replace him. It’s up to the whole team to help us defend.”

The Reds received a boost with the return of regular right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who returned to the side in their recent 3-0 win over Bournemouth. Elsewhere, former Bayern ace Xherdan Shaqiri is a doubt with an abdominal strain.

Bayern have their own issues due to injuries and suspension: defender Jerome Boateng hasn't travelled due to gastrointestinal problems, Arjen Robben has a thigh injury, Thomas Muller is suspended, and Kingsley Coman is a doubt after limping off during Friday night's 3-2 victory over Augsburg.

“It looks positive, he's a bit better. We'll see, we have 36 hours left. I can't give a final statement yet", Kovac told the media when asked about Coman.

Liverpool's front three are expected to run amok against the Bayern defense, where veteran Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule should be tasked to keep the hosts quiet. If the centre-backs aren't able to track the movement of the Salah-Mane-Firmino triumvirate, the German champions could be in for a long night.

However, in Robert Lewandowski Bayern have one of the most prolific strikers of the century and against a make-shift backline, the Pole may just keep the visitors in the tie.

Kick-off is at 22:00.


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