After a composed, professional performance Liverpool eradicated the Bundesliga from the Champions League following the 3-1 win against Bayern Munich. After Manchester City and Tottenham took care of Schalke and Borussia Dortmund respectively, it was Liverpool who triumphed over the German champions. It puts them once again in the hat for the quarter-final draw taking place on Friday.
Liverpool Show Maturity to Progress
Both teams came into this game after the tight, goalless draw at Anfield in the first leg. Liverpool got their game management spot on in this match. Allowing Bayern to have the ball whilst staying compact with the midfield not allowing any gaps. Knowing any away goal they score would force Bayern’s hand.
The in form Saido Mane gave Liverpool the lead. With quick thinking to turn Manuel Neuer and chip into an open net. Liverpool didn’t panic when Joël Matip turned into his own goal. It was a calm response all around, something that was needed at the time.
Bayern tried to put pressure on, but Liverpool looked so in control in the second half. Perhaps due to their position in the tie, as at one goal apiece, they held all the cards. The stoic Dutchman Virgil Van Dijk powered home an unstoppable header halfway through the second half. Giving the reds the lead on the night and in the tie. It was rounded off late on after a pinpoint Mohammed Salah ball evaded Mats Hummels. Who else but Mane was there to apply the close-range headed finish.
We knew coming into this tie that this Bayern Munich team was probably the weakest Bayern team for quite a number of years. It showed as stars of old failed to deliver with some players perhaps just too old or are not capable of playing at the level they once used to.
Either way, the team looked disjointed and almost playing without an identity. No attack seemed to be well worked, full backs seemed to be caught between attacking and defending and Robert Lewandowski had nothing to feed on apart from scraps all night.
This feels like a Bayern team waiting for summer where they can really reset and rebuild and look to replace the likes of Arjen Robben, Frank Ribery, Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and potentially even more of the squad. Before the match, a neutral would have expected to see a more commanding, dominant home performance which didn’t come in the end. You can see why this team has struggled, by their standards, over the course of the season.
This game showed how much Liverpool have matured as a team. How far they’ve come since Klopp first took over. They were involved in a number of crazy, high scoring games last year. However, this game was perhaps one of their best performances of the season.
Even when Bayern equalised, you saw how calm the Liverpool players were and they didn’t panic where past Liverpool teams may have. It allowed them to keep their structure and their heads as they knew their away goal kept them in the lead.
Once again, Liverpool’s front three constantly troubled the Bayern defence. Despite scoring three it could have been more. As they had numerous good positions in which they didn’t take advantage of. It really showed why they may be the best front three in the world.
Individually and ability wise there are better players in front three’s but the way they work together and play to each other’s strengths is what makes them so tough to deal with. Then at the other end of the pitch, Van Dijk was as calm and composed as ever. Effortlessly dealing with one of Europe’s best strikers. Before getting on the score sheet himself, rounding off a terrific performance.
One thing is for certain, no one will want to draw Liverpool. Last year’s run in the competition combined with this season’s form makes them so dangerous. With four English teams through into the last eight, it is fantastic for English football. The first time this has happened since 2009.
For Liverpool fans, they will be looking at the draw feeling as if they can take on anybody. But, for now, we can just reflect on this Liverpool team’s journey from when Jurgen Klopp took over to this point. A real mature, professional performance beating Bayern in their own back yard is a real stand out performance for the Reds.
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