Bayern Munich host Liverpool in crunch Champions League game

MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 11: Leon Goretzka, Joshua Zirkee, David Alaba, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and James Rodriguez (L-R) of FC Bayern Muenchen warm up during a training session at the club's Saebener Strasse training ground on March 11, 2019 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by A. Beier/Getty Images for FC Bayern)
MUNICH, GERMANY - MARCH 11: Leon Goretzka, Joshua Zirkee, David Alaba, Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and James Rodriguez (L-R) of FC Bayern Muenchen warm up during a training session at the club's Saebener Strasse training ground on March 11, 2019 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by A. Beier/Getty Images for FC Bayern) /

Bayern Munich host Liverpool at the Allianz Arena tomorrow in the crucial second leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie.

This season’s Champions League round of 16 fixtures have been intriguing and full of drama, and that should continue tomorrow when Bayern Munich host Liverpool in the second leg of their tie. The first leg was like a chess game, both teams cancelling each other out with solid defending, meaning there is everything to play for at the Allianz Arena tomorrow.

Bayern Munich have enjoyed a fine run of form across all competitions since the winter break ended in January. The defending Bundesliga champions have overtaken Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table thanks to a superior goal differential. Die Roten smashed Borussia Monchengladbach 5-1 a few weekends ago, before crushing  Wolfsburg 6-0 in their most recent league match. Niko Kovac will be hoping his players maintain their fantastic form against Liverpool tomorrow.

Liverpool, meanwhile, have dropped points in the Premier League on a regular basis over the course of the past month. The Merseyside club are now trailing Premier League leaders Manchester City by one point. Liverpool delivered a convincing 4-2 win over Burnley on Sunday, but their poor away form in Europe this season will concern Jurgen Klopp ahead of the trip to the Allianz Arena.

Team News

Niko Kovac received a massive injury boost ahead of tomorrow’s game, as both Kingsley Coman and David Alaba are fit to play against Liverpool. The Croatian is likely to make a late decision on whether Coman will start the game or make an impact from the bench. Alaba, meanwhile, is completely fit to start this game and only missed out on the Wolfsburg match to avoid risking an injury relapse.

Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller will miss this game due to suspension, and Arjen Robben will be absent as well after sustaining yet another injury in training this week. The Dutchman is expected to be back by the end of this month if there are no further setbacks. Corentin Tolisso will miss this game, but he is inching closer to complete fitness after being out for more than six months.

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Predicted XI

Kovac is likely to field a similar team to the one that featured at Anfield a month ago. Manuel Neuer has been a passenger in Bayern’s past few games as his defense has played admirably. Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule will likely start in the heart of defense against Liverpool. Rafinha will replace Kimmich in the right-back position, while Alaba makes his comeback in his favored left-back role.

Javi Martinez was the key man for Bayern at Anfield. The Spaniard shielded the defense well and provided more solidity to the team while defending. Kovac will continue to reward his good form with a start in this game, as Bayern cannot afford to concede at home. Thiago Alcantara has been the main man for Bayern in midfield this season, and the Spain international will likely play a key role in deciding the fate of tomorrow’s match.

James Rodriguez will slot in the attacking midfielder role ahead of Leon Goretzka. The Colombian has struck good form in the last few weeks, and his creativity will be key for Bayern in breaking down Liverpool’s stubborn defense. Robert Lewandowski will lead the line for the hosts, while Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry will likely slot in on the left and right side of the attack, respectively.


Opposition Focus

Liverpool have suffered a minor blip in the past few weeks. Their win over Burnley at the weekend was the perfect tonic for the Merseyside club ahead of the clash against Bayern Munich. This game’s current situation will be lightly more ideal for Liverpool than Bayern. Jurgen Klopp’s men are devastating in transition, so they will patiently wait for any slip up by Bayern’s defense and midfield.

Bayern will dominate possession, but they cannot afford a single lapse in concentration. The defense did well at Anfield to contain the prolific trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. It will take a similar type of performance at the Allianz Arena if Bayern want to advance to the next round. Salah has struggled lately, but Mane has stepped up in his place, becoming the main goal-scoring threat for the English side.

Die Roten will have an even more difficult task in the final third as Virgil van Dijk will return from suspension for the visitors. The Dutchman has been a rock at the back for Liverpool, playing a main role in their Premier League title challenge.

Bayern should try to exploit the space left behind Trent Alexander-Arnold on the right side, as the full-back is at times a liability in defense when he is too adventurous in the final third. This game will be a huge test for Bayern in all aspects, though. They must defend resolutely while offering some threat in attack as well. They have a tough test ahead of them if they want to reach the quarterfinals of this season’s Champions League.

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Bayern Munich 2-1 Liverpool

Liverpool will like to take game deep as they only need one goal to trigger panic in the home side. I think Bayern will start slowly and eventually pick up the pace to score two goals, taking them through the next round. It will be difficult for Bayern to keep a clean sheet, though, so Liverpool will likely get a consolation goal.