FC Bayern v Liverpool
Champions League: 03-13-2019 at 20:00 UST (Allianz Arena)
Odds: Bayern: 2.60, Draw: 3.70, Liverpool: 3.60
Champions League Pick FC Bayern vs. Liverpool
FC Bayern welcomes Liverpool Wednesday at the Allianz Arena for the second leg of their round-of-16 confrontation. The Munich-based team is on fine form coming into this clash. Indeed, the Bavarians have regained their rightful place atop Bundesliga following five consecutive wins in the competition. Bayern’s offensive assets really shone through during that streak as the team scored 18 goals. Munich’s confidence is especially high following their 6-0 home win over Wolfsburg last Saturday. They are in fact the highest scoring team in the Bundesliga after 25 games with 62 goals scored. However, they have had defensive struggles this season, especially when comparing with last season. Indeed, with 9 games to play in the league, Bayern already conceded 27 goals. Last season, they only conceded one more goal over a season which saw them lift the champions’ trophy.
This relative defensive weakness is something Liverpool will hope to capitalise on come Wednesday. Indeed, the second Premier League record this season has been very impressive offensively this season domestically. The Reds have scored 68 goals in 30 games and can count on a plethora of players to create chances. More importantly, however, is the defensive solidity that Liverpool has shown throughout the season. The Virgil Van Dijk-lead line has only conceded 24 goals between the Premier League and the Champions League. Moreover, Liverpool has only conceded 4 goals in 8 matches since the 19th of January. Nevertheless, their dynamic has slowed down due mostly to the inconsistencies of their attack. For instance, over the same time-span, Liverpool has scored more than one goal on only three occasions. A good example of this impregnable defence and sterile attack can in fact be seen in their first leg against Bayern. Indeed, the Reds didn’t concede a goal but shot 15 times – twice on target – without scoring. They will need more realism in front of goals to qualify on Wednesday.
For that, the attacking trio in Jurgen Klopp‘s 4-3-3 will have to be on top of their game. That trio should be composed of Salah and the scorers for Liverpool in their weekend win over Burnley: Mané and Firmino. Behind them, the German’s midfield triangle should see Fabinho start as the lower summit with Wijnaldum to his left. The right central midfielder’s spot is less sure as Klopp has been experimenting with Lallana, Henderson and Milner in the past few weeks. James Milner was unfit against Burnley and might be again against Bayern. Lallana was very active against Burnley and offered a lot of offensive mobility. Nevertheless, Henderson will probably be preferred to him. Indeed, he controls the possession tempo better, as well as offers more defensive and leadership guarantees. The defensive line should be the same as against Burnley with Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk and Robertson protecting Alisson’s goal.
The Bundesliga leaders should line up in a 4-2-3-1 which has been very successful as of late. Joshua Kimmich will not be available due to suspension and the right-back position will be weakened. The recent return of Alaba could therefore push Rafinha to the right-back spot and leave the left-back empty for the Austrian. Süle and Boateng should complete the defensive line as centre-backs. Niko Kovač will rely on the Thiago-Martinez partnership as defensive midfielders, with James Rodriguez probably taking the CAM position. The Croatian should complete his line-up with in-form Lewandowski and Gnabry as well as Thomas Müller. The front three has scored eight of Bayern’s last eleven goals against Monchengladbach (5-1) and Wolfsburg (6-0) and should start if injury-free. Another good news for Bayern is the return of Kingsley Coman who could make a cameo appearance in the last half-hour.
Champions League schedule Liverpool vs. FC Bayern
Both teams have arguments to win the tie. However, the historical odds are in favour of Bayern. Indeed, 70% of UCL confrontations which ended 0-0 in the first leg were won by the team playing at home in the next leg. Additionally, Bayern are on a tear as of late and have much more confidence coming into this game than Liverpool. I believe that the Bavarians will win this match 2-1 and advance to the next round.
PICK: FC Bayern 2-1 Liverpool