Why Liverpool must be Bayern Munich’s subsequent opponent within the Champions League

Liverpool bested Bayern Munich within the 2018/19 Champions League spherical of 16 by a complete mixture rating of 3-1 over two legs, paving the best way to successful their sixth European Cup in Madrid in opposition to Tottenham Hotspur. For each golf equipment, so much has modified since then and there’s a very actual chance that the 2 sides will draw one another to sq. off as soon as once more within the knockout levels spherical of 16 as Bayern Munich received their group and Liverpool completed second behind SSC Napoli of their respective group.

Bayern continues to be second within the Bundesliga behind a shock bundle of the season in Union Berlin whereas Liverpool has had tumultuous struggles within the Premier League, having misplaced again to again matches to sides within the relegation zone to Nottingham Forest and Leeds United. Jurgen Klopp’s facet presently sit in ninth place with a complete of 16 factors from 12 matches performed, which is just 5 factors above the relegation zone. Klopp does n’t consider within the Seventh-season curse that is plagued his managerial profession, however it definitely seems to be prefer it’s coming to fruition as soon as once more a summer time after signing Darwin Nunez from SL Benfica to assist compensate for the departure of Sadio Mane to bayern.

If the 2 sides do wind up drawing one another within the spherical of 16 within the Champions League, there’s so much that could possibly be working in Bayern’s favor this time round.

Severely contrasting type, momentum

Let’s face it, Liverpool have been effective in Europe other than their 4-1 loss to Napoli, however have appeared a trainwreck within the league. The knockout levels do not begin till after the World Cup, but when we’re strictly taking a look at constructing momentum, Julian Nagelsmann’s facet have a lot extra of it than Liverpool. From that standpoint, Bayern can be the odds-on favorites to progress to the quarter-finals, however there’s a lot extra to it than simply type and momentum.

The open, attacking nature within the Champions League

The Champions League definitely fits groups that prefer to play open, attacking soccer. The competitors hardly ever rewards defensive, pragmatic setups that additionally aren’t balanced with blistering counter assaults. A lot of Liverpool’s success within the Champions League this season and in season’s previous has come all the way down to the best way the play so a lot better in opposition to open groups. Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, Darwin Nunez and firm have a lot extra room to function with extra open areas, and except for a handful of set piece targets in Europe this season, that is how they wind up scoring most of their targets.

You want targets to progress within the Champions League, and Liverpool is so effectively setup to punish sides that open themselves up, however they wrestle in opposition to groups that sit in deep in opposition to them, as we have seen with Fulham, Forest, Leeds, Brighton, Everton, Crystal Palace and Manchester United. From all of these matches, they scored a complete of 8 targets, however conceded, 10, yielding a web of -2, which provides as much as far too many dropped factors. Whereas they’ve proven they will rating most of their targets from open play when groups develop into extra opened up, they depart a lot area in behind with what seems to be to be a weakened protection, simply behind an growing old midfield that appears a shade of what they’ve been in earlier seasons.

If Nagelsmann can steadiness a practical, defensively secure strategy, the tie may simply be Bayern’s for the taking, particularly contemplating the defensive enhancements’ we have proven this season with Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt commanding the middle backs position. Except one thing occurs to him between now and the start of subsequent yr, too, we’ll have Lucas Hernandez again within the fold by then.

When Liverpool develop into extra stretched, Bayern has greater than sufficient firepower to interrupt them down and so they also can do the identical even when Klopp take a extra pragmatic strategy, which might be reasonably uncharacteristic of him. Mane, Leroy Sane, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting have accounted for 10 of Bayern’s 18 UCL targets to date, and there is additionally so many extra potential threats with Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Kingsley Coman, and Thomas Muller. As former RB Leipzig supervisor Domenico Tedesco earlier described Bayern’s assault, it is like having arrows fired at you from so many alternative instructions directly.

Picture by Sven Hoppe/image alliance through Getty Pictures

Liverpool’s fragile protection

Defensively, Liverpool are hundreds off their finest. They’ve conceded 16 targets within the Premier League and, by some means, solely 5 within the Champions League, however they’re conceding far too many probabilities, making it no shock that Alisson Becker has been one among their finest, most constant performers of the season to date. Klopp has had unlucky damage blows at various instances within the season to Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, and Trent Alexander-Arnold, which has resulted in him his a handful of various again 4 lineups, typically instances having to make use of James Milner in protection. To distinction, by this stage final season, that they had solely given up 12 targets within the league, however had solely misplaced eleven, which was a 3-2 loss at West Ham. That quantity was 13 after 14 matches within the 2019/20 season once they received the league, which continues to be lower than they’ve conceded at this level. The one season that was worse by this level was the 2020/21 lockdown season (20), however Liverpool turned a pointy nook in direction of the tip of the season to complete in a Champions League spot.

Their midfield hasn’t been any completely different injury-wise, both, and so they routinely get outrun of their Premier League matches. On a RedmenTV post-match YouTube video, one of many feedback learn, “our midfield is only a pile of dodgy ligaments,” and that is shockingly correct. Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara, Harvey Elliot, Curtis Jones, Naby Keita, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have there had damage issues this season and Klopp’s midfield appears to not be capable of present the mandatory safety for what’s appeared like a fragile protection. Bayern can, and would, expose this in a possible matchup, as a result of they’ve proven each within the league and in Europe that they will rip aside groups that each sit deep, or come at them out of the gates.

Liverpool FC v Leeds United - Premier League

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