After playing out a competitive 0-0 draw at Anfield, Wednesday sees Bayern Munich host Liverpool at the Allianz Arena. The teams enter full of confidence, with both sides involved in title races domestically. Niko Kovač and his team come in dealing with injuries and suspensions, whereas Liverpool will be boosted by the return of a key defender.
Bayern Munich v Liverpool: Champions League Round of 16 Preview
Expected to deploy a conservative 4-2-3-1, Bayern Munich will take a balanced approach on the night. Coming in dealing with several injuries and one key suspension, Bayern faces a tough test on Wednesday. Without key right-back Joshua Kimmich, the team will either start backup Rafinha or Jerome Boateng in his place. Attacking midfielder Thomas Muller will also miss the game through suspension. Two key losses, the team will also be without several key players due to injury.
Corentin Tolisso and Arjen Robben will both miss Wednesday’s game. Both players have been dealing with long-term injuries. Winger Kingsley Coman is a doubt for the game, with the French winger facing a late fitness test. Kovač said he is “very optimistic” that Coman will be available, after the teams 6-0 win over Wolfsburg on Saturday. Bayern will also be boosted by the return of full-back David Alaba. Missing the last two games, Alaba is back in training and confirmed on Sunday that he will play against Liverpool.
Expected to deploy their usual attacking 4-3-3, Liverpool enters with few injuries and no suspensions. Coming off a 0-0 draw at Anfield, Jürgen Klopp will be without defender Joe Gomez and midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. The team will be boosted by the return of dominant centre-back Virgil van Dijk. Arguably Liverpool’s most valuable player, the Dutchman missed the first leg through suspension. Also returning are Dejan Lovren and the versatile James Milner. All three players are expected to play a role on Wednesday. Roberto Firmino is a doubt once again, but the Brazillian forward is expected to play. Klopp knows one away goal is enough to give Bayern a serious problem on the night, as his team prepares to attack the Bavarian giants on the night.
Bayern’s Injuries and Virgil van Dijk Returns
Bayern Munich has been dealing with injuries all season. Since Kovač took over in the summer, every game has come with a selection dilemma. The same could be said of Wednesday’s second leg. At right back, the team will play either Rafinha, a natural full-back, or Boateng, who played right back during his time at Manchester City. This will be a crucial decision, one Kovač must get right. At the other end of the pitch, Coman is a doubt for the game, with Franck Ribery expected to be ready to step in if needed.
Wednesday will see the return of one of the world best defenders. Missing in the first leg, van Dijk is set to be a key man once again. His return will likely see holding midfielder Fabinho move back into midfield. This will be key for Liverpool, with the team benefitting greatly from both players playing their preferred positions. The teams most valuable player, van Dijk’s impact cannot be underestimated. As a team, Liverpool is different without the Dutch defender. Unstable in defence, the team also loses a leader in van Dijk’s absence. This won’t be the case on Wednesday, as the Dutchman returns from suspension for his clubs biggest Champions League game this season.
After playing out a competitive 0-0 draw at Anfield, Bayern comes in with the advantage. Set to play in front of a sell-out Allianz Arena, Bayern will look to use home field advantage to carry them into the quarter finals. Liverpool enter as underdogs, after failing to score at home. Klopp and his team are playing with confidence, unbeaten in their last five Premier League games, scoring 12 goals in the process. In what should be a hard-fought game, Wednesday night will likely see a low scoring affair, with the odd goal being the difference. As both teams battle in their respective title races, a win on the night would be huge for both teams and both managers. As Klopp prepares to go up against the more conservative Kovač, the manager willing to take the most risks will likely end up progressing to the quarters.
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