Preview: Liverpool FC – FC Bayern
In the last 5 years the joke has been made that the season for FC Bayern would only really start now. This time it is different. Before the Champions League round of the last sixteen against Liverpool FC, Bayern find themselves in a situation in which the season could be over faster than they would like.
Although both clubs have a huge tradition in European top football, they only met seven times in competitive matches. Bayern could only win one of these games, Liverpool at least two – all other games were drawn. Klopp’s record against the record champion from Germany is also sobering from FCB’s point of view: 9 wins, 4 draws, 16 defeats. Six of these defeats and one of the draws with 1. FSV Mainz 05. Only a few active coaches in Europe have such a good record against FC Bayern.
In the Champions League Klopp now wants to further improve on it. We talked to Sven Ziegler and Richard Köppe of “Supporters Verband” LFC Familie about the upcoming first leg at Anfield Road and how optimistic the Liverpool fans are. On page 2 there is also an analysis of FC Bayern’s current problems and on page 3 we analyse the English with all their strengths and some weaknesses, which the five-time Champions League winner from Munich could perhaps exploit.
Miasanrot.de: Servus, please introduce us to your project! How did you as German speaking fans become fans of Liverpool FC?
Sven Ziegler: Servus or in our case more like “Hi there!” We are the LFC family, a german blog with all news and information about Liverpool FC. But we are not only a blog, but primarily a big association with fans from the whole German-speaking area. In several cities in Germany and Switzerland we watch Liverpool FC matches together in pubs or travel together to Anfield to celebrate or suffer with the team.
Personally, I came to Liverpool FC more by chance. After a game against Manchester City in 2012, which I had the chance to watch in front of the TV, the fever seized me. Since then I have been a Red through and through. But there are also many of us in the association and in the now nine member media team who have inherited the red gene from family or friends.
Miasanrot.de: In the last years many fans weren’t really happy when they were drawn against FC Bayern. Has that changed? What were the reactions like in the fanbase of FC Liverpool?
Richard Köppe: Well, you can never speak of a lucky draw when you get FC Bayern, but the reactions were mostly optimistic. We know since last season that we can beat every opponent over two games and that we don’t have to be afraid of anyone. No name is too big for us.
Miasanrot.de: Besides Klopp knows how to beat FC Bayern. But in the past he couldn’t do underdogs. What has improved in this season that exactly this works out most of the time and Liverpool is therefore top of the table?
Richard: Klopp has repaired the defensive construction sites of the past years by hiring Virgil van Dijk and Alisson. The goalkeeper position is finally safe and the Dutchman is a real leader in defence. We have therefore conceded fewer unnecessary goals against the smaller clubs. At the same time, we have maintained our offensive strengths. Firmino, Salah and Mane are all extremely dangerous and from midfield Shaqiri and Wijnaldum are also good for one or two shots. That makes us unpredictable in the attacking game and most opponents do not manage to prevent this concentrated offensive from scoring.
Miasanrot.de: Is dancing on many weddings still a problem for the squad?
Sven: Due to the high load in the Premier League and the two cup competitions every English top club has to set certain priorities. In the past seasons it showed again and again, how Liverpool started strong, but at the end of the season it simply couldn’t keep up with the top. The lack of squad depth was also a big problem.
For the first time this season, you have the feeling that the team can hold out until the end. In spite of important new recruitments, Klopp also knows that you can’t compete everywhere, and that’s how he is setting up his team. The fact that Liverpool did not get very far in both the League Cup and the FA Cup was hardly a big surprise for any fan, the priorities are elsewhere.
Miasanrot.de: Which competition is prioritized and why?
Richard: I think both the Premier League and the Champions League are of equal importance for Klopp and the team. Although the Liverpool fans have a special relationship to the European Cup, almost everyone would put the championship title before the Champions League success. We have been waiting for a league title for 29 years, it is the holy grail for every Red. A whole generation of fans hasn’t experienced this yet. There will be a party of epic proportions if we are crowned Premier League winner 18/19 in May. No other title in the club’s long history would be celebrated as much as the next championship.
Miasanrot.de: What weaknesses does Liverpool still have despite all its successes?
Sven: Until the turn of the year one could think that the Reds would not show any weaknesses at all. But then the situation changed drastically, suddenly the team got into a negative spiral. The big weakness in my opinion is the depth of the squad. If Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are in a slump, they are very difficult to replace, so there is no danger of scoring. The situation on the right defender position is also difficult, after the loss of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez we suddenly had no right defender. After all, Alexander-Arnold seems to be fit for Tuesday again, which is certainly an incredibly important factor.
Last but not least, it is also important that the central defence gets a good day. Van Dijk will start in the second leg, but both Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren showed weak moments in the big games. Here it takes 90 minutes of full concentration.
Miasanrot.de: What strengths and weaknesses do you see at FCB?
Richard: FC Bayern’s strengths are clearly in its midfield squad depth. With Goretzka, Thiago, Javi Martínez and Tolisso it is full of quality. The same goes for the wings. Ribéry and Robben may be in the late autumn of their careers, but they can win games. Lewandowski has eight goals from the group stage, making him a crucial player for Bayern and Liverpool will have to look after him.
If he doesn’t perform or gets injured, however, Bayern will lose a lot of their chances of scoring, especially as Müller is also suspended. The defence is the Achilles heel of the team. Bayern have conceded too many reckless goals this season, especially against the smaller Bundesliga teams. Our attack proved that he is one of the best in Europe.
I suspect that players like Boateng and Hummels will not be able to cope with the pace and if Alaba and Kimmich go too far forward, there could be dangerous gaps. Manuel Neuer is no longer the mainstay that he was before his injury this season. Nevertheless, he is still a great keeper.
Miasanrot.de: What kind of match do you expect in the first leg and how will it end?
Richard: I expect both teams to have an offensive firework on Anfield Road. Bayern will play for the away goal and want to put a lot of pressure on the defence without van Dijk. But if FCB want to dominate the game, they’ re going to play into Liverpool’s hands with our pressing and our counter strength. We will certainly not see a 0:0. Even without van Dijk, I don’t think FC Bayern will beat us in Anfield. No German team has managed that yet. I’m predicting a 3:1 win for Liverpool. In the second leg in the Allianz Arena, there will be a draw and Liverpool will advance.
On the next page we analyze FC Bayern’s problems.