Serge Gnabry recently sat down with Goal to discuss the upcoming Champions League tie that pits Bayern Munich against Liverpool. He didn’t try to fool anybody with his responses and provided good answers that show that Bayern, or at least Gnabry, is aware of what needs improving to progress in the tournament.
I do not think the public is wrong. Liverpool is playing a very strong season, you cannot deny that.
That’s okay. But that does not mean that we go into the game and say, “There is nothing to get.” On the contrary: we have our strengths, we are Bayern. Everything is possible.
It’s important to recognize just how good Liverpool is. They’re in second in the EPL, right on Manchester City’s heels. On top of that, they have a style of play that is often Bayern’s kryptonite. They’re able to utilize the speed of players like Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, and Georginio Wijnaldum to catch their opponents off guard on counter attacks. As Bayern fans, we all know how disastrous that could be against a defense as shaky and disjointed as ours is at the current moment.
But at the same time, as Gnabry points out, we have strengths of our own. We have world class creators like Thiago and James in the midfield. We have young, pacey wingers on the outside with Coman and Gnabry. Last but certainly not least, we have the best striker in Europe in Robert Lewandowski. So for as many problems Liverpool can throw our way, we have plenty of our own we can respond with.
When asked if there’s a specific player that contributes to Liverpool’s great success, Gnabry took no time with his reply:
Georginio Wijnaldum. When I watch Liverpool games, he’s everywhere. He works in the background, bridging the spaces between defence and midfield and has a very large impact on the Liverpool game.
So while Wijnaldum may not be piling up the goals, he does all the work that allows his team to win. No matter the midfield Niko Kovac chooses for this game, they’re going to have their hands full dealing with the Dutch international.
Use Leon Goretzka? Will he be able to stay disciplined and get back to prevent those counters?
Throw in Javi Martinez? Will he be able to chase the faster player around for a full 90 minutes?
Give James Rodriguez a shot? Will his offensive capabilities be able to make up for his defensive shortcomings (sometimes even liabilities)?
Maybe see what Thomas Müller can do? Well, too bad, he’s suspended.
When it comes down to it, Thiago may be our only midfielder that is well-rounded enough to be able to match up with Wijnaldum. We’ve seen him cover up for his teammates’ mistakes a lot recently, and we’ll need a lot more of that against a team like Liverpool. This just goes to show exactly how important Thiago is to this Bayern team.
Along those lines, Gnabry mentioned his side’s many errors as of late:
It has been seen that you cannot afford [mistakes] in the Bundesliga. Of these we have had too many lately; we conceded too many goals. We have to [cut] that [out]. Liverpool mercilessly exploits such mistakes with its three fast offensive players.
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Serge. Well, the only way to find out if Bayern can actually cut down on those mistakes is to watch them try and do so in Anfield. The real question is, “If they make that many mistakes against Augsburg, how many will they make against Liverpool?”
The answer? Hopefully few enough so Robert Lewandowski can still single-handedly win us this game. Yep, that’s the strategy.