Liverpool will contest the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Bayern Munich on Wednesday night knowing a score draw, or better, will book their place in the quarter-finals.
The match at the Allianz Arena is poised delicately following the sides’ 0-0 draw at Anfield in last month’s first leg.
The Reds go into the all-or-nothing game in Munich having beaten Burnley 4-2 in the Premier League at the weekend to stay within one point of leaders Manchester City.
Meanwhile, Niko Kovac’s Bayern thrashed Wolfsburg 6-0 in the Bundesliga to put the defending champions on top of the table for the first time since September.
So, what can we expect to see from Die Roten at the Allianz Arena?
We spoke to Tobias Altschäffl (@altobelli13), chief reporter at SPORT BILD magazine, to get the lowdown…
How was the 0-0 draw from the first leg at Anfield perceived in Germany?
In Germany, the first leg result was rated very positively. Public opinion before the match was that Bayern were going into the game with Liverpool as the underdogs.
Bayern seemed to set up defensively for that game, how will their tactics differ at the Allianz Arena?
Kovac had a very good plan for the defence – something he was already an expert at from his time as head coach of Eintracht Frankfurt. The big question is: does he also have an attacking solution for the second leg? Bayern will certainly have to act more aggressively when going forward.
Full-back Joshua Kimmich is suspended for the second leg, how big a miss is that for Bayern?
Kimmich is one of the key players in the team. His replacement should be Rafinha. The 33-year-old Brazilian is reliable, but also made a crucial mistake last season against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final.
We’ve seen Tottenham Hotspur, Ajax and Manchester United all win second-leg ties away from home in this round. Has that had an effect on the fans’ and media’s expectations for the match?
No, that had no impact on expectations. It shows that everything is possible for Bayern.
Which key player battle could turn the game at the Allianz Arena?
For me, it is the battle of Virgil van Dijk versus Robert Lewandowski. Will the Bayern striker score in a big match? Or will Van Dijk show how important he is as a leader and the defensive ‘mastermind’ of the Liverpool team?
Which areas do you think the teams will try to exploit in each other?
Bayern must try to make more pressure. The fans and the atmosphere can help. However, the injury to winger Kingsley Coman is a big disadvantage. I think Liverpool will put a focus on the counter-attack with their dangerous strikers.
Like Liverpool, Bayern are going for the league title and the Champions League. If the fans were forced to choose, which one would they prefer to win and why?
I think after six years without the title in the Champions League the Bayern fans are desperate to win the Champions League again. They have won the Bundesliga six times in a row…
What have you made of Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool this season?
Liverpool play a fascinating football that is enjoyable to watch. And Klopp is as emotional as we know him. I like the attacking football they play, even though it looks like a bit of their self-confidence may have got lost over the last few weeks.
Which one Liverpool player would you like to see in a Bayern shirt?
I love the style of Mohamed Salah and would love to see the Egyptian forward in a Bayern shirt!
How do you expect Bayern to line up?
What is your prediction for the match?
It is very difficult to predict. I think it will be 0-0 for a long time. Whoever scores the first goal will win.