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The legend of Liverpool

FC Bayern looking forward to Anfield

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Barcelona, Madrid, Manchester, Milan or the great arenas in London. This year it was Lisbon, Athens and Amsterdam. There is hardly a famous football stadium in Europe that FC Bayern haven't visited in recent years, but the one that has eluded them is Liverpool's legendary Anfield. But the wait is over. The Munich club travel to face English giants Liverpool in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Tuesday.

"Everybody's seriously looking forward to the match," reported Serge Gnabry, who previously played there with Hoffenheim. "The atmosphere is something special, an awesome feeling to play there. I'm expecting a really exciting match," said the 23-year-old. Niko Kovac too is looking forward to it: "We know there are magical nights at Anfield," the Bayern coach had said after the draw, "I hope that'll be the case for us."

The stadium was built before Liverpool FC, who celebrated their 125th anniversary last year, even existed. In September 1884, the sports fields between Anfield Road and Walton Breck Road were opened and initially served as the home ground for local rivals Everton. In 1892, though, the Toffees moved to neighbouring Goodison Park. Liverpool FC were founded soon after and Anfield has been their home ever since.

The stadium lies in the centre of a residential area in the Liverpool district of the same name. The most recent of several renovations and construction projects was completed in 2015. Four stands – the Main Stand, Anfield Road Stand, Kenny Dalglish Stand and the Kop, perhaps the most famous football stand in the world – offer space for 54,074 spectators, making it the sixth-largest stadium in England.

This also makes Anfield one of the most atmospheric arenas in the world. ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, possibly the most well-known football song, has been played before every game since the 60s. It’s a spine-tingling moment for every fan but also for every player who has experienced it. Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry once said, “I’ve played in many stadiums around the world but nothing can compare to Liverpool.”

Even the walk from the dressing rooms is special, with opposing players coming into close contact through a narrow tunnel. In the 60s, legendary manager Bill Shankly left a sign with the Liverpool badge and the inscription ‘This is Anfield’ in the tunnel. It’s supposed to be a message to the opposition: this is Anfield, you’re not getting anything here. Many Liverpool players touch the sign as they walk out to bring them luck.

For German teams, away matches at Anfield have not been very fruitful. From 18 attempts, 15 defeats and three draws is their measly record. Incidentally, Bayern have played at Anfield three times in the past. They lost 3-0 in the quarter-final first leg of the Fairs Cup in 1971 before drawing 0-0 in the last 16 first leg of the Cup Winners’ Cup in the same year and then ten years later in the European Cup semi-finals.

The FC Bayern legends took on the LFC Legends at Anfield in March 2018. The 54,000 crowd were treated to a highly entertaining match that ended in a 5-5 draw. A win on Tuesday would mean the Bayern pros make history at this legendary venue.

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