Initial reactions and observations:
- Bayern’s offense could not get it done. The team managed a meager 3 key passes. In other words, only three passes led to shots. The passers? Süle, Javi, and Coman. Nothing came from Ribery or James.
- Bitterly, in the one moment when Rafinha was truly called upon to defuse a critical situation, Manuel Neuer unadvisedly intervened, rushing Mané in the penalty area but failing to collect the ball. In my view, it was Neuer’s mistake that led to Liverpool’s critical first goal.
- Virgil van Dijk is a beast. We’ll never know how Liverpool might have played with him at Anfield, but he was spectacular in Munich. He neutralized Javi and Hummels on his goal and was a rock on defense.
- Matip gaveth, and Matip tooketh away. He may have committed an unlucky own-goal off of Gnabry’s cross, but Matip was outstanding otherwise, snuffing out attack after attack and driving Lewandowski to distraction.
- It was fitting and symbolic that Kovac put Renato Sanches on for James Rodriguez. This is the roster that he was given. James failed to create anything tonight.
- Bayern missed Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller on offense undoubtedly most of all.
Full time. Bayern’s Champions League quest has come to an end.
90+1 — Yellow card for Robertson: Funny, I guess. Robertson will be suspended for the first game of the next round.
90’ — Wow, Sanches! Spins his way around his man, making him fall down and then delivers a great forward pass to Coman. Alas, it all comes to naught.
89’ — Coman somehow eludes a triple-team, but sends the ball harmlessly across the goal line.
87’ — Substitution for Liverpool: Lallana on for Milner.
85’ — Liverpool score: Origi picks out Salah open on the left. Salah makes a perfect lobbed pass forward to Mané, who heads it past Neuer into the far corner.
83’ — Sanches takes a long shot on the ground wide of goal.
Substitution for Liverpool: Origi replaces Firmino.
80’ — Neuer easily parries a direct shot by Firmino.
79’ — Substitution for Bayern: Renato Sanches replaces James. James is visibly irritated as Kovac meets him on the sideline.
75’ — Neuer makes a last-man clearance. Salah takes a shot wide as Mané closes in. Neuer manages to kick it away at the last second. Salah deserves a lot of credit for staying on his feet and not taking an easy penalty on a desperate tackle by Rafinha.
72’ — Substitution for Bayern: Leon Goretzka replaces Javi Martinez. Coman swiftly wins a corner, but Bayern cannot capitalize.
71’ — And two more corners. Bayern is struggling to get back into the game.
69’ — Goal for Liverpool! Alexander-Arnold sends the corner into the center of the scrum. Van Dijk launches skyward over Javi and Hummels and heads the ball into the left corner.
67’ — Milner wins a corner off Süle. Neuer swats a good ball to Matip at the far post back out of bounds. Rinse and repeat.
65’ — Yellow card for Thiago: Thiago wipes out Wijnaldum from behind. Javi then steps on him for good measure, but escapes the notice of the referee...
63’ — Lewy finally gets his personal pest in trouble: Matip receives a yellow card for fouling Lewy from behind. Javi Martinez connects with the freek kick, but sends it over the goal — and is offside.
61’ — Another brutal missed chance: Ribery finds Gnabry open out left. Gnabry sends a perfect cross to Lewandowski across the face of goal, but Lewy is a hair late, and the ball keeps rolling.
Substitution for Bayern: Kingsley Coman is on for Ribery!
60’ — A Bayern breakaway is snuffed out when Thiago plays the ball into the ref’s legs. Fortunately, Liverpool promptly loses it.
57’ — Bayern just can’t get the ball out. The ref finally awards them a free kick on a foul. Lewandowski makes a run, but Liverpool’s Matip is there first.
55’ — Bayern remain on the defensive. They haven’t seen much of the ball for several minutes, although they’ve managed to keep Liverpool at bay.
50’ — Liverpool break, as Salah collects the ball out wide on the left. Salah goes for goal, although Milner is wide open on the left. Neuer punches the ball off to the side.
48’ — Yikes: Thiago goes down, but it seems as if he was only bumped by an elbow.
46’ — Yellow card for Liverpool: Mané sees the yellow card for catching Thiago on the foot.
Kickoff of the 2nd half! And we’re back! The ball rolls yet again.
Here are some observations on the match to tide you over:
- Bayern’s defense has been solid, allowing Liverpool just three shots. Hummels, Süle, and Javi have been outstanding. But one of two on target went in after a very costly error by Manuel Neuer.
- Serge Gnabry may have produced the own-goal, but he has seen the ball relatively seldom. Most of Bayern’s offense has run through Ribery, but the Frenchman seems just incapable of breaking through Liverpool’s defense.
- Robert Lewandowski has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been starved of touches (14 at halftime). He has a single shot. His teammates need to get the ball to him.
45’ — So tantalizing. Robert Lewandowski breaks away with the ball and manages to get past Alisson, but the ball rolls out of bounds and the line ref (rather late) calls offside anyway.
44’ — Alaba’s free kick is right on target from impressive range, but Alisson is ready.
43’ — Yellow card for Liverpool: Fabinho brings James down on a tackle from behind. The ref lets the play continue briefly, but when Lewandowski is called offside, the free kick and yellow card are awarded. Alaba lines up to take the shot.
40’ — GOAL for Bayern! JAAAAA! Gnabry runs behind the defense to collect a long ball. He crosses it inside and Liverpool’s own Matip puts it in his own net before it can reach Lewandowski!
36’ — Bayern sniff a chance, as Gnabry connects with a cross, but Alisson is ready.
35’ — Mané and Robertson orchestrate a perfect one-two, as Robertson splits Rafinha and Süle. Neuer comes up big with the save at the near post.
33’ — Javi Martinez finds himself one on one with Mo Salah. He’s manages to keep Salah outside long enough for James to clear the ball out of bounds with a really nice tackle.
29’ — Lewandowski sends an easy shot in for Alisson to collect. Liverpool respond with an attack of their own.
26’ — GOAL for Liverpool: A long ball out of the back falls to the feet of Sadio Mané. Rafinha is caught outside on his left, while Neuer is well of his line in the middle of the penalty area. Neuer closes in to stop him, but misses, and Mané lobs the ball into the empty net. Bayern need at least two goals now.
25’ — A close call for Bayern: Salah surprises Bayern with a forward lob into the path of Firmino. Firmino strikes, but the ball flies wide of the right post.
23’ — Mané on the left wing sends a low pass into the box, but Firmino doesn’t make a move for it. Neuer calmly picks it up.
21’ — Neither side has been especially threatening yet. Both are patiently attempting to build up through the midfield without taking too many risks.
17’ — Ribery called offside — probably wrongly — spoiling a really nice long ball right to him.
16’ — Now Bayern are circulating the ball. It looks as if Mané and Salah have returned to their usual positions on the left and right respectively.
13’ — Substitution for Liverpool: Henderson is replaced by Fabinho. So much for Klopp’s surprise move.
12’ — Now Henderson is down again. He’ll probably be subbed off. Meanwhile the Bayern players are giving the ref a piece of their mind about that non-call.
10’ — Potentially a big call: Robert Lewandowski is picked out with a long ball by Javi. The ball lands at his feet, but Lewandowski goes to the ground while tangling with Van Dijk. No penalty called.
8’ — Bayern make the first attack: Liverpool retreats into their half while Henderson is being treated on the sideline. Gnabry makes a run into the box, but Liverpool clears. Thiago catches the rebound and takes a long shot over the bar.
6’ —Potentially bad news for Liverpool. The captain Henderson has gone down with an ankle injury after an innocuous looking collision with James. Klopp has Fabinho warming up now.
2’ — Liverpool is pressing high, so far with Mané on the right and Salah on the left, contrary to expectations. Süle has so far kept a close watch on Salah.
Kickoff! The ball is rolling. Liverpool start in possession!
One hour to kickoff: Official lineup!
Here it is! The starting lineup:
Liverpool has released their official starting lineup. Interestingly, Klopp has opted not to start Fabinho, as many had anticipated:
Bild has learned Kovac’s starting lineup a little before the official announcement. According to them, Franck Ribery will start at left wing today, putting Coman on the bench. At center-back, Mats Hummels will be joined by Niklas Süle. Rafinha will play at right-back as expected, since David Alaba is fully fit.
Nach @BILD-Informationen tauscht #Kovac zweimal im Vergleich zum Hinspiel in Liverpool: @FranckRibery spielt für Kingsley #Coman und auch @David_Alaba gab am frühen Abend Grünes Licht, so dass @R13_official rechts den gelb-gesperrten @JoshuaKimmich ersetzt #FCBLFC @LFC @FCBayern— BILD FC Bayern (@BILD_Bayern) March 13, 2019
The midfield will consist of Javi Martinez at CDM, with Thiago Alcantara joining him in a flexible double-pivot. James Rodriguez plays at the 10. The rest of the lineup: Robert Lewandowski at striker, Serge Gnabry at right wing, and of course Manuel Neuer in goal.
It’s time for the game that will define this round of the Champions League — Bayern Munich vs Liverpool at the Allianz Arena. Since the first leg of the tie ended 0-0, both teams still have everything to play for.
Niko Kovac is burdened with the absence of two key players — Thomas Müller and Joshua Kimmich— to suspension. Kimmich will presumably be replaced by Rafinha, a more than capable backup, but he will have to be at his best to keep Sadio Mané and Andy Robertson at bay.
In attack, since Müller is absent, Robert Lewandowski will have his work cut out for him breaking down the pairing of Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip. He will be supported by a winger duo of Serge Gnabry and one of Franck Ribery or Kingsley Coman, but, as we saw in the first leg, it’s very difficult for a striker when he doesn’t get any touches on the ball.
James Rodriguez may end up key to the tie. The Colombian had a terrible game at Anfield, but he’s shown a resurgence in form since. His skill and technicality could help Bayern beat Liverpool’s press, and he may have an easier time now that Liverpool’s Naby Keita is out injured. Of course, Kovac has the option of using Leon Goretzka instead of James, for added speed and physicality.
As you can see, the tie promises to be a great tactical battle and a feast for the eyes. These are the games that the Champions League was meant for. Time for Niko Kovac and his men to show the world what they are made of.
It’s Bayern time.
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Time: 9 pm local time, 3 pm EST
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