Chris Williams – Anfield, Liverpool
In a fixture that promised so much in the way of attacking football, it ended in a finely balanced goalless draw that will have pleased the visiting side more than their Merseyside hosts.
- Bayern register their first clean sheet in seven competitive fixtures (22 December 2018 vs Eintracht Frankfurt).
- Liverpool reach 20 games unbeaten at home in the Champions League
- Bayern are unbeaten in their last nine European away games
Liverpool vs Bayern 0-0
Both sides walked out to a cacophony of noise as the Champions League knock-out stage returned to Anfield.
It was at this point last season that Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool announced themselves to the world as an attacking force to behold.
How would Germany’s Rekordmeister fare in a stadium that had been the downfall of so many during the previous campaign?
The answer was ‘very well’ – It was the visitors who had the first real opportunity. Serge Gnabry fired in a dangerous cross that scared Joel Matip into a rushed clearance.
The ex-Schalke defender sliced his reactionary lunge, luckily for the Reds the large frame of goalkeeper Alisson prevented the ball from nestling in the back of their net.
Each side asked their opponent to press. Alisson and Manuel Neuer held onto the ball as long as they could, inviting pressure inside the box in order to force a false counter attack – it made their respective supporters nervous, but it allowed the game to flow from one end to the other.
Liverpool created a number of chances as the half wore on. Sadio Mane should have converted a pinball deflected pass on the half-hour mark, but the Senegalese forward could only steer his shot wide of Neuer’s far post from close range.
As halftime crept closer it was Klopp’s Reds who looked the most likely to break the deadlock. Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah began to dictate the host’s tempo but an opening goal evaded Klopp’s men.
As the teams left the pitch it was Bayern who would have been the happier, the Bundesliga champions had limited Liverpool’s chances whilst also creating their own occasional foray forward.
The second half began with the same levels of intent as the first ended. Bayern happy to allow their hosts a greater level of possession, it was as if the Bavarians were content with a nil-nil scoreline.
Robert Lewandowski was forced to drop deep, while Javi Martinez and Thiago showed all their experience as they effortlessly denied a route through the centre of the park, forcing Liverpool to use both wingbacks to fashion any sort of attack.
And it was an attack that was missing for the most part. For all their gusto Liverpool had only managed one shot on target as the game crept towards the final five minutes. Bayern for their part, they hadn’t tested Alisson since the opening moments.
Neuer turned a Mane header around the post with four minutes remaining, it was the closest the ball had come to either net on a night that will have pleased Niko Kovač more than Jürgen Klopp.
Liverpool vs Bayern – Man of the Match -Javi Martinez
The Spaniard was on top form in a fixture that relied heavily on a strong set of midfielders. Manuel Neuer spoke pitchside on just how important the 30-year-old was at Anfield.
“Javi was fantastic. We know we can count on him in big games and he showed that tonight” the Bayern goalkeeper said.
Liverpool vs Bayern – Talking Point
For all the talk pre-match of a pulsating fixture which would be loaded with goals, it was Bayern’s resolute defending – coupled with Liverpool’s inability to create anything of real note – that defined this opening matchup in the Round of 16 clash.
Liverpool vs Bayern – Match Stats
- Hummels, Martinez, Thiago and Rodriguez all made their 50th Champions League appearance tonight.
- Kimmich yellow card means the defender will miss the second leg in Munich
- Wednesday 13 March is when the two teams meet next
Liverpool vs Bayern – Line-ups
Alisson – Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson – Henderson, Wijnaldum, Keita (Milner, 76′) – Mane, Firmino (Origi, 76′), Salah
Coach: Jürgen Klopp
Neuer – Kimmich, Sule, Hummels, Alaba – Javi Martinez, Thiago – Gnabry (Rafinha, 91′), James (Sanches, 88′), Coman (Ribéry, 81′) – Lewandowski
Coach: Niko Kovač
Chris Williams is a freelance European football journalist. Covering the Bundesliga, Premier League and both of UEFA’s European club competitions. Published in both local and international publications, he also contributes to television and radio across the globe. A member of the UK’s Sports Journalist Association and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Chris Williams on Twitter @Chris78Williams