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Liverpool vs Bayern Munich | Match Review

Liverpool vs Bayern ends in a goalless draw as the Reds miss big chances to put themselves in the driving seat.

Liverpool's Matip and Henderson challenge Bayern's Lewandowski. ('Liverpool have every chance of winning at Bayern'—Champions League Reaction, 2019)

A big night at Anfield resulted in a surprising zero to zero draw between Liverpool and Bayern with Liverpool missing the big chances to put themselves in front. Sadio Mane went close in the first half for the Reds, driving a shot from the centre of the box just wide of the post. Matip also came close to putting Liverpool in front, but Sule blocked well for visitors.

Bayern controlled most of the ball in the first half, with Liverpool grabbing a hold of the game more in the second. Liverpool’s defence was very shaky in the first half with goalkeeper Alisson taking chances passing out from the back—putting his side into trouble when giving Matip the ball in a dangerous position. Bayern, however, could not capitalise on Liverpool’s nervy start. Liverpool grew into the game as the first half went on, with the centre-defensive partnership of Matip and Fabinho looking solid. They were able to keep Lewandowski quiet, which is a tough task for any defender in the world.

Liverpool pressed and pushed for a goal, however the cutting edge was missing. Bayern did look solid in defence in the second half as Liverpool attacked the Kop end—picking up many of the second balls and clearing the ball well out of danger. Bayern were also decent in possession, the Liverpool press was effective in some situations, but Bayern did well to take the sting out of the game with their ball retention.

With Joshua Kimmich picking up a yellow card for his lunging tackle on Sadio Mane in the first half, he will miss the second-leg through suspension. This means a double boost for Liverpool as centre-back Virgil van Dijk will be available for the return fixture in Munich.

Liverpool’s midfield performed well against a strong Bayern midfield with the likes of Thiago, Javi Martinez, and James Rodriguez. However, that creative spark was missing with Shaqiri left out of the starting XI. Wijnaldum, Henderson and Keita worked incredibly hard and shut down Bayern well, especially captain Jordan Henderson. Klopp’s decision to leave Shaqiri out of the starting line-up for a more defensive setup in midfield did pay off to stop Bayern from creating anything in midfield. However, this meant that Liverpool lacked a bit of spark in midfield to create more for Firmino, Salah and Mane up front.

The match was quite intense, with both sides having their shaky moments in defence. The second leg at the Allianz Arena promises to be another tight affair. If Liverpool score, Bayern will have to outscore them due to the away goals rule. Zero to zero at the end of 90-minutes and extra time will mean penalties. That would be an interesting shootout with the qualities of Alisson and Neuer in goals. Liverpool’s away record in the Champions League this season has not been great, losing three out of three on the road.

A concern for Bayern heading into the second-leg is Liverpool’s ability on the counterattack. Liverpool could approach the second tie in a more conservative manner, knowing that the pace of Salah and Mane on the counter attack has the ability to hurt any team in world football. However, Liverpool pressing at Anfield put Bayern under pressure and did not allow them to build out from the back. Klopp is very experienced in playing against Bayern Munich from his time in Germany, making this European tie the more interesting.

Amongst the immense pressure of this heavyweight European tie, both sides are also fighting to win the league title in their respective league competitions. Liverpool put a lot of running effort into the game against Bayern, and recovery will be very important with a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United on Saturday. With a win, Liverpool will go three points clear at the top of the Premier League. Liverpool are longing to win a trophy, and this season provides a good opportunity in the league, and potentially in Europe. A trophy would top off what has been an incredible transformation of Liverpool Football Club since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp. 

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