Tuesday sees Group C runners-up Liverpool host group E winners Bayern Munich at Anfield. Jürgen Klopp’s team currently sit second in the Premier League, with Niko Kovač’s Bayern also sitting second in the Bundesliga. Set to face off in the Champions League Round of 16, both sides enter the first leg with title races on their minds and key injuries.
Liverpool v Bayern Munich in Champions League Round of 16 First Leg
Expected to deploy their usual 4-3-3, Liverpool’s game plan can be very effective. Coming off a convincing 3-0 win at the weekend, the team looks set to use the formation that carried them through the group stages. Klopp will be without centre-back Virgil van Dijk, a huge loss for the team. Fellow defender Joe Gomez will also miss Tuesday’s game. Forward Roberto Firmino is a doubt for the game after missing training on Monday. The team is also expected to start either James Milner or Trent Alexander-Arnold at right back. In van Dijk’s absence, Klopp will likely start holding midfielder Fabinho at centre-back. Former Schalke defender Joel Matip is expected to start alongside the Brazilian.
Expected to deploy their usual 4-2-3-1, Bayern Munich come in having struggled on the defensive side of the ball. Kovač will likely start Tuesday’s game in his usual formation. However, the team’s shape is flexible, switching to a 4-3-3 when necessary. Topping group E, Bayern will be without key players just like Liverpool. Centre-back Jerome Boateng is out of Tuesday’s game as Kovač preparers to start Niklas Süle and Mats Hummels. Thomas Muller is suspended, but the German international has travelled. The team is also without Arjen Robben, who is dealing with a long-term injury. Regular starter Kingsley Coman is coming off a superb performance last Friday. Scoring two goals on the night, the 22-year-old suffered an injury in stoppage time. The Frenchman is a doubt to start, but he has travelled with the team. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is expected to start after recovering from a minor hand injury.
As Liverpool prepare to go up against Bayern’s deadly attack, the team will need certain players to step up. Van Dijk will miss the first leg due to suspension, leaving a big hole in Liverpool’s back four. Expected to start Fabinho and Matip, Klopp will rely on a makeshift defence on Tuesday. Going up against the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and James Rodriguez, Liverpool face a tough test. Whether or not their back line can deal with the pressure Bayern will bring will go a long way to deciding this tie. One member of Klopp’s rampant front three looks set to miss out on Tuesday. Missing training on Monday, Firmino is a major doubt. Both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are expected to start, with Divock Origi or Daniel Sturridge replacing Firmino.
Dealing with key injuries themselves, Bayern will be without several key players. Arjen Robben and Corentin Tolisso are both recovering from long-term injuries. Boateng will also miss out, the former Manchester City defender was in contention to start on Tuesday. Picking up an injury late on in the game against Augsburg, Coman is a doubt for the game. Scoring twice in his teams 3-2 win on Friday, the French winger limped off after the final whistle. Coman’s injury now puts veteran winger Franck Ribery in contention to start. Both teams have impactful injuries, which team adapts the best will decide who wins on Tuesday.
The loss of van Dijk will play a key role on Tuesday. Liverpool’s makeshift defence has a huge task preventing Bayern from taking any away goals back to Munich. The injuries and suspensions on both sides should make this an open, entertaining game at Anfield. Both teams will present an attacking threat on the night, making a high-scoring game likely. Liverpool enters as favourites but without their best defender, Bayern Munich will look to take full advantage. A score draw would give Bayern the advantage heading into the second leg. Coming in, Liverpool’s biggest test will be surviving without van Dijk against quality opposition. Whereas Bayern’s toughest test will be dealing with the pressure Liverpool throw at them. Both teams can and will score on Tuesday, most likely giving Bayern the advantage heading into the second leg.