It’s finally here. Bayern Munich take on Liverpool at Anfield in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16. In Jurgen Klopp and his Reds, Niko Kovac faces his most dangerous opponent yet. There are a few key absences in the Bavarian squad, and some tactical choices to make. What will the coach do?
Team news — Bayern Munich
Kovac has to deal with the absence of several key players, most notably Thomas Muller, who is serving a suspension for a red card he received against Ajax. James Rodriguez is the prime candidate to take his place on the starting lineup, as the Colombian’s passing and creativity will be key to breaking down the Liverpool defense.
In the absence of Arjen Robben, Serge Gnabry is the go-to man for the right wing, while Kingsley Coman is expected to be on the left. There are concerns about the fitness of the Frenchman — following an ankle injury against Augsburg. It was feared that he would not be ready in time for Tuesday’s game, but Coman trained with the team at Anfield, and most journalists expect him to start.
With Corentin Tolisso absent, the midfield was supposed to be made up of dual pivot consisting of Leon Goretzka and Thiago Alcantara. However, here’s an update about Goretzka:
The former Schalke 04 man experienced some mild irritation in his right knee and trained individually under the advice of Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt. According to AZ, his participation in tomorrow’s game isn’t in danger, but Javi Martinez should be considered the prime candidate to replace him if he can’t play.
Despite Jerome Boateng’s absence the defense is expected to remain settled, with Mats Hummels and Niklas Sule forming the center back core, guarded on the flanks by Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba. With the threat of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane looming over, they will have to work their hardest to make sure Bayern remain in the tie.
Finally, Manuel Neuer has made a complete recovery from last week’s hand injury and will be in goal. Here’s how we think the lineup might look like:
Team news — Liverpool
According to our friends from The Liverpool Offside, Jurgen Klopp is most likely to start Fabinho in central defense, given Virgil van Dijk’s suspension and Dejan Lovren’s questionable fitness. Joel Matip slots in for the injured Joe Gomez in what might be a makeshift backline for the Reds.
With Fabinho tied up in defense, Klopp is expected to run with a midfield three consisting of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Naby Keita. That’s still a strong midfield trio, and Bayern Munich fans will be well aware of the threat Keita can pose.
In other news, Brazilian striker Roberto Firmino missed training due to a virus.
Firmino has a virus. Full story to follow— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) February 18, 2019
In case Firmino cannot participate in the game, then perhaps Daniel Sturridge might get called upon to appear, or maybe Klopp could alter his tactics to play Mohamed Salah as a number 9. Check out The Liverpool Offisde’s preview of the game for more details.
Here’s how they may line up:
According to The Liverpool Echo, Roberto Firmino is fit and ready to face Bayern Munich. This will be a huge boost for Liverpool, as their striker is a key part of the forward line.