FC Bayern Munich v. Liverpool (Champions League Game)
The first leg of this match fizzled out into a bore draw with neither side able to accomplish much. There was a grand total of two shots on goal last time out, both by Liverpool. In total, there were 24 shots, but perhaps it’s telling that only two were even on target. Regardless, that means it’s a clean start for the sides heading into leg two!
FC Bayern Munich
Bayern had a slight advantage in possession in the first match, along with a 5% increase in pass completion. However, they didn’t register a single shot on goal and… that’s a problem. In order to score goals you have to get close to the goal, and this means that none of their nine shots were. Bayern didn’t make use of any of the substitutes until late, past the 80′. The good part for Bayern is that they’ll be at home in the Allianz Arena and whoever wins this game will advance.
The last time we talked about this Bayern club, they were “down” in second, but since they have returned to the top spot. Although the top two places (Munich and Dortmund) are separated by a mere two-goal difference, there’s a chasm between them and the chase group. At home Bayern has been able to secure 29 of 36 points available; on the road, they’ve locked down 30 of their 39. In their twelve home games so far this season they are averaging almost 2.5 goals per game, or about 0.1 goals less than they score on the road. Although, both locations they concede almost the same number (one goal) per game. Since the last time, these teams matched up Bayern had a 5-1 defeat of Börussia Gladbach and 6-0 destruction of Wolfsburg. Bayern is coming into their best form of the season at just the right time.
In the Champions League, they’ve managed to score more goals at home (3 games played, eight goals scored) versus road games (4 goals, seven goals scored). This is in contrast to their domestic league where they average more goals on the road. Bayern Munich has scored 15 goals in their seven games so far in the Champions League. They’ve only conceded five across those seven games. Only two of those five goals come from their three home games; the remaining come from four road games. This sets up for a nice home match against a Liverpool that has struggled mightily away from home in the Champions League (they are winless on the road, scoring one goal and conceding five).
Players to watch:
– Robert Lewandowski: Lewandowski is a veteran striker, and his numbers show it across both the Bundesliga and the Champions League. In the Bundesliga alone, he’s scored 17 goals with seven assists in 24 appearances. His Champions League numbers are equally impressive having scored eight goals in only seven appearances. He has a ridiculous knack for getting exactly where he needs to be to get the goal. He has half of his goals (4) scored in 3 appearances at home, and this is setting up to be a very attacking matchup, so I fully expect him to add to his total.
– Joshua Kimmich: Kimmich has been teeing up shots for Lewandowski all season long, and he’s spent most of the season at right-back. In 25 appearances in the Bundesliga, he’s contributed ten assists and two goals. In 7 Champions League appearances, he’s added two more assists. From a defender position, that’s pretty prolific production from the back.
– David Alaba: Alaba has also contributed two assists and a Man of the Match performance to the cause in the Champions League campaign. In the Bundesliga, he’s also added two goals and an additional assist. The centerbacks will be important to break up the Liverpool attack and start the counter, and both of these defenders have shown the ability to do just that.
Liverpool had the better showing in the first leg, although they were unable to convert any of their shots (even the few on target) into goals. This is more of a concern for Liverpool because they lost all three group stage matches on the road. Liverpool created 15 shots (although only two were in target), won the dribble and aerials battles and generally looked much more dangerous.
Liverpool has fallen off the pace of their runaway train in the first part of the season, trailing Manchester City by a sole point. Liverpool has managed only three wins (and three draws) in their last six league matches. Their last six away games show a marked weakness that might become a glaring error in the Champions League; they have three draws, two wins, and a loss. At home, Liverpool has been lights out, but road competitions have been a brash reminder of their humanity.
As I noted above, Liverpool has been absolutely dreadful away from home in the Champions League. So, although it wasn’t pretty from either side, I’m feeling like the scoreless draw is going to hurt Liverpool a lot more. They are going to their much weaker venue (remember they’ve yet to win on the road) in a win or go home matchup. Liverpool spent mightily to bring home some trophies. The rest of the team has picked up a bunch of the slack, but Mo Salah is scoreless in his last five league games and has only scored one in his last eight appearances across all competitions. They need Salah to step up and at least play well enough to draw some pressure off of the others.
Players to watch:
– Mohammed “Mo” Salah: I’ve been hearing much drama saying that “Mo Salah is overrated,” but I am not willing to go that far. I think that he is out of form, but I’m not about to call a 44 goal 16 assist from a season ago (2017-2018). As I mentioned above, he’s had a rough year (by his standards). He’s been absent from the Champions League for Liverpool, of the seven games they’ve played he’s scored three goals (in two, home games). Although not a direct comparison, in last season’s Champions League, he played in 13 games and scored in 10 also providing five assists. Liverpool is in dire need of the Mo Salah from last year returning to provide some assists at least, this version of Mo Salah is about 0.6 key passes per game decreased from his current Premier League form.
– Roberto Firminho: Firminho is responsible for two of the nine Champions League goals, but has only been able to score at home. Firminho has scored 11 goals and added five assists in the Premier League this season. Similarly to Salah, Firminho has a massive difference between his Champions League campaign this season compared to last seasons where he scored ten goals and added eight assists in 13 appearances. Whatever the reason Liverpool can’t seem to score goals in the Champions League (especially away from home), they need to figure it out, now.
– Sadió Mane: Despite Mane’s limited appearances for the side in the Premier League (15 so far), he’s one of the top scorers for the team. Even he has seen a dramatic dip since scoring ten goals and adding an assist in 11 Champions League appearances last season. His appearances were partially limited due to a hamstring injury, and he’s almost missed a few from red card suspension.
What to expect:
Liverpool spent a ton of money this season with one goal in mind, winning. They started the season on absolute fire and have cooled. This is a must-win game for Liverpool or else their Champions League dreams are gone. That makes me think Jürgen is going to do whatever he can to make this side as attacking as possible. Bayern will be hoping for exactly that and will try to find some chinks in the chain that they can take advantage of. I think this game yields several goals and is going to have much more attacking pace (and accuracy). Bayern isn’t likely to go out of this competition without fighting for their lives.
Last Updated: March 11, 2019