The news that Bayern Munich will need to face Liverpool in the Champions League round 16 has been hit with a blend of panic and euphoria from the Bavarian fan base. On the one hand, this is the kind of game that UCL was intended for – two of the largest teams on the continent, both dripping with history, pitted against each other in a conflict to decide which one to represent among the top eight in Europe? This is not a saga, it's a Hollywood blockbuster. On the other hand, this meeting can end very badly for one of the teams involved – and no, I'm not talking about Liverpool FC. Now Bayern Munich is more than ever threatened as one of Europe's "big 3". A few months ago, the idea of crashing out of the Champions League in February had been unthinkable. Now it's a very clear reality. Simply put, this game is likely to cause serious negative consequences for the club. If you are the kind of person who wants to read about positive, my colleague Schnitzel01 wrote a list of reasons that Liverpool could meet this early could be good for Bayern. Unfortunately, I'm not as optimistic as he, and here's why: Bayern Munich matches badly against Liverpool Before we can talk about what can happen if we lose, let's talk about why we can lose. Of all teams in Europe right now, Liverpool FC probably matches the best against Bayern. It's like rock, paper, scissors.…
The news that Bayern Munich will need to face Liverpool in the Champions League round 16 has been hit with a blend of panic and euphoria from the Bavarian fan base. On the one hand, this is the kind of game that UCL was intended for – two of the largest teams on the continent, both dripping with history, pitted against each other in a conflict to decide which one to represent among the top eight in Europe? This is not a saga, it’s a Hollywood blockbuster.
On the other hand, this meeting can end very badly for one of the teams involved – and no, I’m not talking about Liverpool FC. Now Bayern Munich is more than ever threatened as one of Europe’s “big 3”. A few months ago, the idea of crashing out of the Champions League in February had been unthinkable. Now it’s a very clear reality.
Simply put, this game is likely to cause serious negative consequences for the club. If you are the kind of person who wants to read about positive, my colleague Schnitzel01
wrote a list of reasons that Liverpool could meet this early could be good for Bayern. Unfortunately, I’m not as optimistic as he, and here’s why:
Before we can talk about what can happen if we lose, let’s talk about why we can lose. Of all teams in Europe right now, Liverpool FC probably matches the best against Bayern. It’s like rock, paper, scissors. We are scissors, and they are the cliff. Why is it like that? Well, let’s summarize:
Liverpool has the best woven fabric in Europe. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are like the elderly’s robbery – and like Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery they are a nightmare for defenders to handle. For a long time, Bayern Munich’s weakness has been in line with the flanks. Our fullbacks – Joshua Kimmich Moreso than David Alaba – love nothing but bombing far up instead of a goal or helping.
This is good when trying to break down parked buses but not so well when your opponent has a world-class wing that can punish you in the eye. We saw what Jadon Sancho did for the team in Dortmund a few weeks ago – replace Sancho with Salah, and what happens?
Bayern Munich fans will know Jurgen Klopp, given the amount of mutual grief they both caused each other. Klopp will make sure to finally determine the score with Bavaria, now that he has all the tools he needs to make us suffer.
Aside from the power of the above-mentioned wings, Liverpool uses a very aggressive press designed to disturb possession groups like Munich. But it’s not quite as gung-ho as the Klopp Act from before, because this current iteration of Liverpool is more than just a glass cannon.
Summer purchases by Fabinho and Naby Keita add much needed steel to Liverpool’s midfield (although Klopp seems to prefer James Milner for the most part) while former Roman goalkeeper Alisson Becker provides the type of decision-making performance that a top team needs. Liverpool has awarded only seven goals in 17 games this season. It is far from last season, where they recognized 38 in 38.
Those who believe Bayern will be good at Liverpool because of their leaky defense must reassess their position. This is not a typical Klopp layer. It’s like 2012 BVB on steroids.
Outside Bundesliga, it’s hard to find home support as it is in Kop. Anfield is a fortress, and it makes Liverpool incredibly threatening. Of course there are teams outside of Europe’s five best leagues with incredible support in their home plans, but none of them make up for Bayern as Liverpool does.
If you do not know Kop is Anfield’s version of the yellow wall. It is one of four stands at the stadium, and by far the most famous. Due to the nature of the stadium, followers hang all the way down the plane, which means that the crowd of the audience is always in the player’s ears.
Although the Allianz Arena places almost 20,000 more than Anfield does it matter, when it comes to noise, these scousers can give the Germans a run for their money. Borussia Dortmund found it on the difficult road a few years ago when they recognized four goals in the second half to lose their Europa League game 4-3 and left the match to Liverpool in the process.
Concerned that Bayern, whose departure in the Champions League knockouts has been doubtful for some time now, can do the same. Of course, we still get the chance to fix things in Allianz Arena, but if it gets ugly, the deficit can be too difficult to overcome.
In other seasons, none of these factors would be independent breakers. But this time there is a big problem …
If this fixture had taken place at least the season or maybe even next season (depending on circumstances) when Bayern Munich could be more convinced to take a tie from Merseysiders. But as it stands, we can not hope to do more than make a fight. Simply put, this Bayern team is the weakest we have had this year.
Bavaria currently has a free floating crime, but it is evident by the thin founders. Thomas Muller, who seems like the glue that holds the whole attack together, will be interrupted for the first leg in the tie. He can be replaced enough by James Rodriguez, but what Muller does can not be replicated by James.
James can not enter the box to draw defenders from Robert Lewandowski like Muller can. He can not suddenly pop up and find uninhabited pockets of space in the defense. The Colombian is excellent for checking and finding key cards, but there are some things he does not. James and Muller are fundamentally different players, why Jupp Heynckes always played both James and Muller on the schedule in the big games last season.
Squad depth is another concern. Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are excellent wings but injured inclined. Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery are simply not enough to replace. The squad is dangerously thin at the fullback positions – an injury to either Kimmich or Alaba means Rafinha has to fill in. An injury to both would be catastrophic. The same goes for the midfield – once again Thiago Alcantara, our best midfielder, is harmful.
To beat this Liverpool team, Niko Kovac needs all he can, and with the loss of Muller he begins with a huge drawback at the beginning. In addition, this is a Bayern team low on self-confidence and self-esteem. Doubt can act as an anchor on the psyche of players, which prevents them from performing their best. The effect is exemplified by Manuel Neuer, who has looked at a shadow of his former self after returning from injury.
It does not end there. With its history it is almost a prerequisite that the Bavarians will collide with one or two injured players. And even if the question of trust is settled in the coming months and nobody gets injured – it’s still Kovac vs Klopp. The latter is much more experienced than the previous one, especially on the big stage.
Klopps MO is making great teams, and he has shown that he can do it over and over again. Kovac, who is already detrimental to his team, must also deal with his own inexperience at this level.
It would be better if we had an easier team, like AS Roma or Manchester United, to start us. Kovac could have used the ability to make his feet wet and increase the team’s confidence at the same time. Instead, he has been handed over a lowering or faint situation, and it is as a couple of weights have been tied to the feet.
Simple: Much. Liverpool has the freedom to play in this fixture. People will forgive them to lose to the “mighty” Bayern Munich. They are startup, those who challenge the status quo. If they succeed, they are promised. If they fail, they get brownie points to try.
For Bavaria, on the other hand, losing this tie would be a humiliation. We have lost Champions League bands before, but they came across the absolute cream in Europe – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid – and in all but one case, the loss came against any champion.
There are less experienced stigma in losing them than losing a team like Liverpool, who could not even qualify for the Champions League. Therefore, Juventus is still regarded as a big club, even though they broke out in the 16th round a few years ago – because they lost Bayern, and it was no shame to lose such a team. They were underdogs to begin with.
A loss for Liverpool is the kind of thing that transforms the story of a club on the head. We are losing here, and people (mostly unmanned, but people still) start asking, “Hello, is Bayern Munich no overestimated?” Triumph 2013 was almost six years ago. Its shine is diminishing. While Barcelona can still point to a recent-ish treble (and play in La Liga has its own characteristics), what will we be left with?
Those who get great power are always paranoid to lose it. Well, for Bavaria, it is now much more than just paranoia. Our 2013 triumph elevated us a step above the rest into the eskelone of the uber elite. We stand now to lose that status, and it can hurt us a lot. Football changes. Prestige questions. The perception is everything. This would be a bad time for Bavaria to fall behind.
Until the two teams actually end in February, all that is written above remains the ranships to a very pessimistic Bayern Munich fan. Winning this game is not impossible – the fact is less likely things that happen all the time in football. But this is a really dangerous moment for the club, and we have to be prepared if things do not go the way.