Initial reactions and observations:
- First: everybody breathe! That was intense.
- Bayern struggled to bring the ball forward to its attacking players. Serge Gnabry in particular was Bayern’s only reliable threat, while Robert Lewandowski was largely isolated.
- Have yourself a day Javi Martinez! Many speculated that Niko Kovac might play Javi to shore up Bayern’s defense, and Goretzka’s injury made the point moot. Javi was immense.
- Bayern’s back line overall played fantastically, snuffing out chance after chance and forcing Liverpool to take rushed shots off target.
- The flipside, of course, is how outmatched Bayern’s midfield seemed today. Javi concentrated primarily on defense, but James and Thiago struggled to make an impact offensively. Both had three key passes, but no results.
- The biggest takeaway besides the scoreline: Joshua Kimmich’s suspension in the return leg in Munich will hurt.
90’ + 4 — Ribery and Sanches launch an attack, but the referee gets in the way of Sanches’ follow-up pass, and the play is dead.
Bayern win a final free kick... that’s it! Full time!
90’ + 3 — Javi snuffs out another Liverpool attack. Poor Javi looks exhausted.
90’ + 1 — Substitution for Bayern: Rafinha relieves Gnabry. Fresh legs to defend up the right flank.
Four minutes of stoppage time to play.
90’ — Süle goes down after a minor collision with Origi. It looks as if the striker stepped on his foot.
88’ — Substitution for Bayern: Renato Sanches replaces James Rodriguez. What a crazy journey for him from relegation-bound Swansea City.!
87’ — Javi Martinez is down with a cramp briefly. He takes an age to get up. The home crowd is not amused.
85’ — Robertson finds Mané outside the far post. Mané heads the ball toward the post — it might have rebounded in — but Neuer swats it away outside. The ensuing corner goes nowhere.
84’ — Matip whiffs on a chance just outside the box. Incredibly, both teams have just one shot on target today. Liverpool leads in terms of shots: 13 to 9.
81’ — Substitution for Bayern: Franck Ribery relieves Coman.
80’ — Milner dispossesses Thiago and finds Mané out wide, but Kimmich is on hand and plays brilliant defense to concede only a corner. Bayern averts the danger.
79’ — James receives the ball in space but takes a poor shot from center left to outside the far post. A wasted opportunity.
78’ — Alaba is called for offside as he receives a pass from James.
75’ — Substitution for Liverpool: James Milner replaces Naby Keita. Keita had a tremendous first half, but faded in the second.
Divock Origi also replaces Firmino.
74’ — Salah wins yet another chance as he outmaneuvers Alaba, but he practically runs into Wijnaldum, the same player who set him up. Bayern clears the ball in the confusion.
70’ — Hummels makes a great tackle on Salah before he can shoot. Lewandowski is called for a foul shortly thereafter on a debatable call. Liverpool free kick. Alexander-Arnold fires a long ball; Süle needlessly heads it across the line, conceding a corner. Fortunately, Bayern defend the corner.
68’ — Bayern scramble to clear danger again. This time, Naby Keita continues to drive, eventually finding Mané in a dangerous position. Bayern manages to poke the ball away in the scrum and out of danger.
63’ — Meanwhile, Ribery, Renato Sanches, and Rafinha are warming up on the sidelines. Kimmich is still on a yellow card.
Both teams have been sloppy in the last few minutes. Hummels concedes a corner.
61’ — Another close call for Bayern as Alexander-Arnold dispossesses Coman and launches a dangerous attack. Bayern manage to avert danger. In the sequel, Henderson comes off worse from a challenge by Thiago. He seems ok.
58’ — Gnabry wins the ball in space above Liverpool’s penalty arc. He turns and hammers a shot toward the goal, but it goes just outside the top right corner.
57’ — Gnabry makes an excellent run up the right flank and ultimately wins a corner for Bayern. James’ corner is sent out of bounds. Liverpool defends the second one, too.
54’ — Bayern continue to play with fire. This time, Kimmich is forced to run inside, leaving the right exposed. Süle tries to slide and clear the ball away from Robertson, but the ball bounces into the air dangerously toward Bayern’s net. It fortunately flies past it and Salah accidentally sends it out of play.
52’ — Coman at last makes a break forward, but he’s all alone on the left flank. He still manages to pick Lewandowski out of a crowd of red shirts, but Fabinho cleanly tackles the Pole in front of the goal.
48’ — Alexander-Arnold sends a free kick into Bayern’s penalty area, but it grazes Hummels’ hair and goes out of bounds. Bayern doesn’t seem to know what to do with the ball. At the moment. Neuer sends finally everyone forward and boots it.
Kickoff to the second half! We’re back and — whoa — Liverpool’s press wins the ball almost right away. Yikes. Not idea.
- It has been an extremely intense match, but Bayern has done more damage control than anything. Liverpool’s superiority on the break has been evident, and Bayern is lucky not to have conceded anything on the chances they have created.
- Kingsley Coman doesn’t look like himself. Whatever his official status, he isn’t playing as if he’s fully fit. He had one major chance and fired it into the side netting. Otherwise he’s been a non-factor.
- Where is James and Lewandowski? While Coman struggles, Serge Gnabry has been shouldering Bayern’s offensive duties almost alone. James has hardly been involved, and Lewandowski has almost nothing to show, despite the fact that Liverpool’s best center-back, Virgil van Dijk, is not playing.
- What can Kovac even do? A glance at the respective benches is not exactly encouraging. Perhaps Franck Ribery can inject some lift into the offense or at least give Liverpool a bigger distraction, winning Lewandowski, James, and Gnabry a bit more room to breathe.
HALFTIME! Everybody breathe!
45’ +1 — Salah loses to, then recovers the ball from Coman before delivering a great cross for Firmino. But he’s covered by Bayern’s defense and Neuer smothers the ball before Mané can claim it.
45’ — Keita redirects the ball with one touch on the attack into the path of Firmino. He attempts to chip the ball over Neuer into the far corner, but it goes straight across the goal and out of harms way.
42’ — Javi Martinez launches a break up the middle, passing to Gnabry wide. Gnabry delivers a great cross to him, but Matip blasts it over the net for a corner. James’s delivery is good, but Bayern cannot capitalize.
41’ — And again: this time, Kimmich gets taken out of the play by a clever cut. Firmino finds Matip, but he misfires wide of goal.
40’ — Liverpool strike back immediately, driving at Bayern’s goal and taking a fast free kick just outside the penalty area to catch Bayern off guard. Kimmich kicks the ball away for a corner.
38’ — More trouble in front of Bayern’s goal. Kimmich is dispossessed, but Keita hesitates too long with the ball. Mané attempts a bicycle kick, but fires wide.
37’ — Thiago dispossesses Alexander-Arnold and finds Gnabry wide. He and Lewandowski could create a 2v1, but the angle is tight. Gnabry shots for the far corner, but Alisson touches it out of bounds. Bayern can’t do anything with the corner.
36’ — Coman breaks with the ball, but holds it longer than he should. Ultimately, Alaba wins a corner from the play. James’ delivery is good, but Javi can’t reach it.
34’ — Kimmich has to be treated briefly on the pitch. Rafinha starts warming up, but Kimmich plays on.
33’ — Bayern dodge a bullet: Liverpool make a major break, winning the ball in midfield. Firmino claims it and finds Keita; Keita dodges a tackle and passes on to Mané — and Mané simply misses! He was one on one with Neuer, but couldn’t find his footing.
31’ — Virgil who? Bayern so far has not been able to press forward consistently at all. Coman and James have been troublingly quiet.
28’ — Yellow card: Joshua Kimmich. This one hurts. Kimmich receives a yellow card for a foul on Mané. It rules him out of the second leg in Munich.
27’ — Bayern make yet another promising break as Lewandowski is out wide, but he can’t cross it inside and the attack fizzles.
24’ — Another close call: Bayern can’t clear the kick cleanly. Alexander-Arnold gets on the end of the rebound and sends it over to Salah. Neuer is on hand, but Salah’s header goes just wide of goal anyway.
23’ — Excellent defending from Kimmich as he defuses a fast break by Liverpool. Süle gives away a foul on Mané after the throw-in, and now Bayern have to defend a dangerous free kick.
22’ — Gnabry capitalizes on a poor header by Robertson, but his first touch sends it over the goal line. Lewandowski was open.
20’ — More trouble for Bayern as Bayern struggles to clear the ball away from a swarm of Liverpool players. Keita attempts a bicycle kick in the end, but the ball flies outside.
16’ — Major chance by Mané, but Kimmich pushes him out wide and his shot goes outside.
Bayern follow up by capitalizing on a slow clearance by Alisson. Lewandowski disrupts his kick, but Coman fires the shot into the side netting.
12’ — The first opportunity goes to Liverpool: a long ball from Henderson finds Salah, but he hits it only with his toe, and Neuer makes an easy save.
Bayern then counter and Gnabry delivers a dangerous cross inside, but Lewandowski’s point-blank shot bounces off Alisson and out of harms way.
11’ — Thiago disrupts a counter initiated by Mo Salah and is called for a foul on Wijnaldum. Free kick Liverpool in dangerous range. Bayern head it away.
10’ — A little noise as Gnabry finds space on the right to deliver a cross. No one can reach it on the inside, but Liverpool do not convincingly clear it either.
7’ — The referee calls a handball on Coman in Liverpool’s penalty area. There was no chance Lewandowski could do anything with the ball he attempted to serve him anyway.
3’ — Both teams pressure the opposing keeper — Keita runs at Neuer, Gnabry at Alisson.
2’ — After an initial flurry of moves by the hosts, Lewandowski wins the ball in the midfield and is brought down by a trio of defenders. Free kick Bayern.
Kickoff! Liverpool kick off the game and launch forward on the attack. Here go!
Minutes before kickoff: The captains meet with the referees while the stadium echoes with song and chants. We are almost set!
One hour until kickoff: The lineups have come out and it’s bad news for Bayern. Leon Goretzka has been sidelined by an ankle injury, Javi Martinez takes his place.
Here is Liverpool’s lineup:
It’s finally here — Liverpool vs Bayern Munich, a clash of two footballing titans at Anfield. These are the games the Champions League was meant for. Both clubs are European footballing royalty, having won the competition five times apiece. These games are, without a doubt, THE must-watch games of the round.
This is actually the first time these two clubs have ever faced each other in this competition, as unlikely as that may sound. Despite decades of footballing pedigree, neither club’s dominant periods in Europe coincided with the other, meaning that they’ve always managed to avoid meeting in the continent’s top club competition.
Not anymore though. Niko Kovac and Jurgen Klopp have the job of taking their respective teams to the next round, and both will undoubtedly be taking this fixture very seriously. Both Bayern and Liverpool face difficult title races in their domestic leagues, but the Champions League is a different beast altogether.
Niko Kovac is expected to come out with his usual lineup — Robert Lewandowski up top, flanked by Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry, and supported by a midfield trio of James Rodriguez, Leon Goretzka, and Thiago Alcantara. The defense remains an area of concern for the Bavarians, as the backline consisting of David Alaba, Mats Hummels, Niklas Sule, and Johsua Kimmich has looked far from solid.
As for Liverpool, everyone knows about the threat of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, but let our friends at The Liverpool Offside be the ones to tell you all about them. They’re the experts.
It’s the biggest game of the season so far, and we fans must hope that Niko Kovac and the lads are up for it. As far as quality of opposition goes, there are very few teams that can match Liverpool right now. But Mia San Mia has never been about giving up, so we will fight, and try to topple them at Anfield.
It’s Bayern time.
Location: Anfield, Liverpool, England
Time: 9 pm local time, 3 pm EST
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