Created on 2019-02-18 at 17:00 PM by Redaktion
FC Bayern's Champions League matches will be win-or-bust affairs from now on. The German record champions travel to face last year's finalists Liverpool in the last sixteen of Europe's premier club competition (live in English from 21.00 CET on our exclusive fcbayern.com ticker). Niko Kovac' men aim to achieve a good result at Anfield before the return leg at the Allianz Arena on 13 March.
"We know what kind of atmosphere awaits us, that it's a truly beautiful stadium, and that it'll be a cauldron. So we must fight passionately but keep our cool," said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic before departure to the north-west of England. "The match could have been a semi-final tie. It'll be a duel at the highest level, I'm looking forward to it."
Two draws at Anfield
Bayern are buoyed by a run of eight away matches without defeat, and they have scored at least two goals in all of them. "It's always important to score a goal on the road, that would be good," said Salihamidzic, hoping that Munich's attacking unit will be prolific on Tuesday too. However, a German side have never won at Anfield, with 15 defeats in 18 matches from a German point of view. FC Bayern held Liverpool to goalless draws in 1971 and 1981.
"We can all be looking forward to a great match," said Kovac ahead of the game away to the side lying second in the Premier League, equal on points with Manchester City. "It's the toughest draw we could have been handed. Liverpool made it to the final last year, they're top favourites for the title. But we're FC Bayern, and I'm convinced Liverpool know they'll play in Munich in the return leg," added Kovac.
Players rated doubtful at both sides
"We go to Liverpool with healthy confidence. We want to assert ourselves there, turn in a good display and ideally achieve a good result before the return leg," stressed Leon Goretzka. "We can lay down a marker in the matches against Liverpool, to show we're back," said centre-back Niklas Süle. Mats Hummels warned against a "really outstanding team. We must put up a fight over 90 minutes, otherwise we'll lose, we might even go down."
However, Bayern travelled to Liverpool with personnel concerns. Thomas Müller misses the match with suspension, Jérôme Boateng is ruled out with gastroenteritis, whereas Kingsley Coman is nursing a knock sustaned in the Bundesliga match away to Augsburg. "He's improved a little," reported Salihamidzic, but the final decision will be made at short notice. "We still have 36 hours, a lot can happen," the sporting director said before departure.
Klopp expecting a big night
Franck Ribéry, whose wife gave birth to the couple's fifth child on Sunday night, was not on board the plane but joined his team-mates in the early evening. The match comes too early for world champion Corentin Tolisso, who is recovering from a cruciate ligament rupture, and Arjen Robben, who is nursing a knock.
The hosts have personnel concerns too. Defensive chief Virgil can Dijk misses the match with a one-match ban and Joe Gomez is ruled out with injury, whereas Giorgino Wijnaldum, Xherdan Shaqiri and Dejan Lovren are rated doubtful. LFC coach Jürgen Klopp expects "a big Champions League night, an emotional match we want to enjoy," knowing what awaits his team: "We must be 100 percent focused, otherwise we won't have a chance. That's certain."