Bayern Munich veteran Arjen Robben said Anfield is his “worst stadium” ahead of the Champions League last-16 tie against Liverpool.
Liverpool injury, suspension list: Team news and predicted line-up vs Bayern Munich
Preview: Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich – prediction, team news, lineups
By Daniel Lewis, Senior Reporter | 1h
Two former Champions League winners locks horns at Anfield on Tuesday evening as Liverpool and Bayern Munich face off in the first leg of a highly-anticipated last-16 tie.
Liverpool made it all the way to the final last season but had to work hard to progress through a difficult group this time around, whereas Bayern eased through Group E to remain on course for a first continental triumph in six years.
Jürgen Klopp’s in-depth analysis of Bayern Munich began in Marbella – and the boss has warned that Liverpool will face a Champions League opponent boasting ‘quality in all departments’.
Bayern visit Anfield on Tuesday for the first leg of a tie that will end with one side progressing to the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition.
Of course, Klopp’s background means his familiarity with the Bundesliga title-holders is significant, and he has detailed why he expects a new version of an old adversary to provide the Reds with a tough test.
LiverpoolLiverpool forward Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring the opener for his side during their Champions League clash with Red Star Belgrade on October 24, 2018
Manchester United legend Gary Neville told Liverpool to forget about challenging for the Champions League this season if they were to seriously rival Manchester City for the Premier League title. For a while it looked as though Jurgen Klopp heeded that advice as his side’s hopes of progression from Group C were hanging by a thread at one point.
Back-to-back away losses to Red Star Belgrade and Paris Saint-Germain left Liverpool requiring victory at home to Napoli on the final matchday – far from an easy challenge against one of the continent’s most dangerous sides. In the end a Mohamed Salah strike 34 minutes into December’s match proved the difference, though Klopp also had to thank Alisson Becker for producing a late wonder save.
It is on such fine margins that memorable runs are built, as was the case last season when Liverpool made it all the way to the final, where they lost 3-1 to Real Madrid. If not for some terrible goalkeeping from Loris Karius, the man Alisson was brought in to replace in a record transfer last summer, Liverpool may well have added a sixth European crown to their collection.
For a side that made it to last season’s final and made it through their group this time around, Liverpool have a surprisingly poor recent record in Europe. In their last eight matches, stretching back to the 2017-18 semi-finals, they have lost five and won three.
Klopp’s men have lost four European away games in a row, including all three this term, making Tuesday’s first leg at Anfield all the more important. Liverpool are unbeaten in 19 consecutive European matches on home soil, winning 14 of those and last tasting defeat back in October 2014 against Madrid.
It is their second-longest unbeaten streak at home in European competition after their 40-match run between September 1974 and December 1991. If they are to have any hope of booking a place in the quarter-finals at Bayern’s expense, their unbeaten home run will surely have to stay intact.
Liverpool have had 10 days’ rest between matches, giving Klopp a chance to take his players abroad for a warm-weather training camp. After dropping points in two successive Premier League matches prior to beating Bournemouth 3-0 last time out, the recuperation period came at just the right time.
The Reds’ domestic title hopes are still in their own hands with the final stretch drawing into sight. Now the Merseysiders turn attention back to the European stage, and you get the sense that they will not throw in the towel – despite Neville’s words of advice.
Recent form in Champions League: WLWLLW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWDDW
Bayern MunichBayern Munich players celebrate Kingsley Coman’s goal against Augsbury on February 15, 2019
Following a slow start to their season that nearly cost Niko Kovac his job, Bayern have hit a good run of form at just the right time and are now right back in the Bundesliga title race.
From nine points adrift of Borussia Dortmund this time last month to two points adrift after 22 matches, albeit having played a game more than the league leaders, Bayern will now consider themselves favourites to win a seventh successive league title.
Kovac’s side are also still in contention for German Cup glory, but it is the Champions League that they truly want. Having lifted the most famous club trophy of them all only twice this millennium, the Bavarian giants will be keen to put things right this season.
As one of five teams to remain unbeaten in the group phase, along with Ajax, Barcelona, Lyon and Porto, Bayern have momentum on their side as they attempt to reach the semis for an eighth time in 10 seasons – an incredible record, given the competition.
Bayern are also on a run of eight consecutive Champions League away games without a defeat, with their last loss on the road coming against PSG in September 2017. Only once before have they enjoyed a longer run – 10 games between October 2012 and April 2014.
The German champions were not quite perfect in Group E, though, as they were held home and away by Ajax, conceding three times in their most recent European outing in Amsterdam to just about hold onto top spot.
Bayern were also recently taken to extra time by Hertha Berlin in the DFB-Pokal and had to twice recover from a goal down to see off Augsburg in their final Bundesliga match prior to their Merseyside trip. Results may have been largely positive, then, but Die Roten are still not at their ruthless best.
There is a reason why Bayern are so heavily fancied, though, as they have won 11 of their 14 last-16 ties, including the last seven since an away-goals reverse at the hands of Inter Milan in 2011. That winning run includes 5-1 victories home and away to Arsenal, giving them a record of 10 wins from 15 two-legged ties against English clubs.
Recent form in Champions League: WDWWWD
Recent form (all competitions): WWLWWW
Team NewsVirgil van Dijk in action for Liverpool on January 19, 2019
The week-and-a-half break between matches has given Klopp an opportunity to bring certain players back up to speed, though a few key men still remain absent.
Klopp has admitted that he is planning for the game without Dejan Lovren, who is carrying a hamstring injury, while Joe Gomez remains on the sidelines with an ankle problem.
To make matters worse for Liverpool, record signing Virgil van Dijk is suspended after picking up three yellow cards in the group phase, meaning that it could well be a makeshift centre-back pairing of Fabinho and Joel Matip.
Liverpool do at least have Trent Alexander-Arnold back available and their front-three trio are all fit, so Klopp will be hoping that Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane can paper over the defensive cracks.
In terms of the visitors, they were given a major injury scare against Augsburg on Friday as Kingsley Coman, the scorer of two goals, limped off with an apparent ankle injury.
Coman has been given the all clear to play at Anfield, however, which is a big boost for Kovac as Thomas Muller will miss out through suspension.
Kovac has a couple of selection decisions to make, including which of Javi Martinez or Leon Goretzka to go with in central midfield, though there is an easy call to make up top as Robert Lewandowski is in great form.
The Poland international leads the Champions League scoring charts this term with eight in total, and he is aiming to find the back of the net for a fifth consecutive European game – something he has not previously managed in the same season.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Kimmich, Sule, Hummels, Alaba; Martinez, Thiago; Gnabry, James, Coman; Lewandowski
Head To Head
These European heavyweights have surprisingly met on just six previous occasions in European competition and not at all in almost two decades, last facing off in the 2001 UEFA Super Cup in Monaco.
Liverpool won that match 3-2 and also came out on top in the semi-finals of their victorious 1980-81 European Cup campaign, courtesy of an away goal from Ray Kennedy.
Bayern claimed victory in the sides’ first contest, in the 1971-72 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals, but that remains their only win in this fixture.