LFC Foundation and Football v Homophobia teamed up to deliver a series of educational workshops to local youngsters last week.
Football v Homophobia is an international initiative, launched in 2010, which aims to challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity within all levels of football.
LFC Foundation has supported the initiative for a number of years through its Premier League Primary Stars programme.
And 136 pupils from four Liverpool primary schools took part in the latest interactive sessions at the LFC Foundation Learning Space at Anfield, which focused on LGBTQ awareness and education.
LFC Foundation project lead David McParland said: “It’s really important that our young people have the knowledge, skills and understanding to contribute positively to all communities.
“Football v Homophobia has pioneered a positive, inclusive and fun approach to LGBTQ awareness and education, and has carried out hugely impactful work around all forms of anti-discrimination within the game over the last decade.
“These sessions are incredibly insightful and empowering for our young people, and we look forward to continuing to work with Football v Homophobia and the local community on these important issues going forward.”
Liverpool played out a goalless draw with Bayern Munich at Anfield in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday night.
The sides are now set for a fascinating encounter in the deciding second leg at the Allianz Arena on March 13.
Here is what the media made of the match…
James Pearce, Liverpool Echo
Frustrating? Undoubtedly. Damaging? No. There's no reason for Liverpool to fear the return leg at the Allianz Arena on March 13 as Klopp looks to extend his 100 per cent record in two-legged European ties during his Anfield reign. Yes, Bayern have only lost two of their past 26 home games in the Champions League but the Reds don't need to win in Bavaria. A score draw would secure their progress to the quarter-finals and the dynamic will be different in the away leg. For a starter, Klopp will have defensive talisman Virgil van Dijk back available after suspension. Bayern will also have to show more attacking intent on home turf and that should leave Liverpool with space to exploit on the counter. After a night when the spotlight will inevitably fall on the Reds' shortcomings in the final third, the value of keeping a clean sheet shouldn't be overlooked. Robert Lewandowski, the top scorer in the Champions League this season, barely had a kick as Fabinho excelled alongside Joel Matip in a makeshift centre-back partnership. Time and time again Fabinho was in the right place at the right time to make important tackles and blocks. In front of him, captain Jordan Henderson delivered his best performance of the campaign as he stamped his authority on proceedings. However, attacking fluency was conspicuous by its absence. Henderson shone on his return to the side. His passing was of the highest calibre and off the ball he worked tirelessly to shut down space and win back possession.
David Lynch, Evening Standard
Liverpool’s season has been so consumed by their ongoing Premier League title charge that this game almost felt like an afterthought. But a crackling Anfield atmosphere prior to kick-off was a timely reminder of this club’s love affair with a European Cup, and the reason Jürgen Klopp is right to take this competition just as seriously this term. In the end, the Reds didn’t quite produce the performance to match their pre-match favourites status, but still had plenty to be pleased with at full-time. He may never win over all of his critics but Henderson will always be loved by Liverpool fans thanks to performances like this. Coming up against the likes of Thiago Alcantara, Javi Martinez and James Rodriguez, the Englishman made a fair pitch to be considered the evening’s best-performing midfielder. His energy and criminally underrated passing range were crucial to the Reds wresting control of the centre of the park back following a ropey first 20 minutes.
Neil Jones, Goal.com
The goalless draw at Anfield surprised plenty - but the Reds will fancy their chances of finishing the job in Germany. Funny old game though, football. And after 90 absorbing but ultimately scoreless minutes, we will head to the Allianz Arena in three weeks’ time with this tie still very much in the balance. Advantage Liverpool? This is not a team used to celebrating goalless draws at home, but given the defensive issues which had dogged them heading into this game, they can look upon it as a useful result. Certainly, Jürgen Klopp will fancy his side to score in Munich. Van Dijk’s absence through suspension here was always likely to challenge the Reds. The Dutchman is a totemic presence at the back, and his calmness, communication and aerial presence would have been hard to replace even if Dejan Lovren had been passed fit, which he wasn’t. As it was, Liverpool began with midfielder Fabinho partnering Joel Matip at centre-back. An untried, makeshift partnership against Robert Lewandowski, one of the world’s premier centre-forwards. A worry, yes, but give credit where it is due. Liverpool handled Lewandowski, and just about everything else Bayern could muster, excellently.
This story has been reproduced from the media. It does not necessarily represent the position of Liverpool Football Club.
Georginio Wijnaldum cited Liverpool's clean sheet against Bayern Munich as a crucial factor for the second – and decisive – leg next month.
The Champions League last-16 tie between the sides is poised at 0-0 after the opening match at Anfield on Tuesday night, during which neither could profit from the chances they created.
Jürgen Klopp felt the Reds’ final pass let them down on the evening, a sentiment Wijnaldum agreed with in his post-match assessment of the game.
But the Dutchman believes the successful shutout of Bayern means Liverpool have every chance of progressing to the quarter-finals by sharpening their finishing in Germany.
“We played a good first half. The second half was OK, we created chances, unfortunately we didn’t score a goal. We were not lucky with the chances. But the good thing is we didn’t concede,” Wijnaldum told Liverpoolfc.com.
“The last pass we gave was not that good. Sometimes you have those kinds of games – that you don’t score the chances you have or not give the final pass well. We have to deal with it.
“The way we are playing we have the quality to create chances [in the second leg]. That’s why I’m happy we didn’t concede.
“I’m not really worried about scoring goals because we already showed we can do it in games before. We just have to do it again there. Hopefully we have a little bit more luck with the chances and hopefully we win.”
With Virgil van Dijk suspended for the first leg and Dejan Lovren still sidelined by injury, Klopp moved Fabinho into central defence alongside Joel Matip.
And Wijnaldum praised the duo for their contribution to Liverpool’s clean sheet.
“They were really good, both Fabinho and Matip did a really good job stopping Lewandowski, still one of the best strikers in the world,” he added.
“We knew before it was going to be difficult but they did a great job in the game. Next time we’ll have Virgil back, so hopefully that will be OK also.”
Last Updated: 20/02/19 8:41am3:50 From Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford's flourishing partnership to Mohamed Salah's imminent record, we pick five stats ahead of Super Sunday From Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford's flourishing partnership to Mohamed Salah's imminent record, we pick five stats ahead of Super Sunday
From Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford's flourishing partnership to Mohamed Salah's imminent record, we pick five stats ahead of the blockbuster fixture this weekend.
Super Sunday pits the two most successful clubs in English football history against each other, with local rivalry, a title challenge and Champions League places all at stake - there are intriguing subplots everywhere you look.
Liverpool are two places higher in the Premier League table, but historically, United are two league titles better off - they have lifted the trophy 13 times since Liverpool were last champions 29 years ago.Man Utd vs Liverpool
February 24, 2019, 1:00pm
In fact, Liverpool have only finished above their rivals four times since that last title win.
Standing 14 points better off than United, the Merseysiders are on course to finish above their rivals for the third time in the last six seasons, having previously only done so once in Premier League history.
Jurgen Klopp is also on course to become the first Liverpool manager to finish above Manchester United more than once since Kenny Dalglish.
Liverpool ran out 3-1 winners at Anfield in December - it was their first win over United from nine attempts in the Premier League, and it also spelled the end for Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford - he was sacked two days later.
Since then, United have been in resurgent form under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer - being the only unbeaten Premier League team since his appointment and the top team for points, wins and for the fewest goals conceded.
David de Gea's performances have contributed significantly towards that success - saving 84 per cent of shots faced under Solskjaer - effectively saving five expected goals, according to Opta's xG statistics.
In the same period, Alisson has a save ratio of 64 per cent for Liverpool.
At the other end of the pitch, Liverpool will be hoping their front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah can add to the 38 Premier League goals they have chalked up between them this season.
However, since Salah's arrival at the start of last season, he, Firmino and Mane have only one goal or assist between them against United - that was Mane's goal at Anfield in December.
In terms of goal involvements, that is all they have to show in eight appearances combined against United, totalling just under 700 minutes of action.
Using the same figures, the trio's favourite opponents are Watford - who they face at home next Wednesday.
In particular, Salah will want to get on the scoresheet on Sunday: it would make him the fastest player in Premier League history to reach 50 goals for a single club - reaching the feat in just 63 league appearances.
Should he clock up his 50th goal on Sunday, he would break Alan Shearer's all-time Premier League record of reaching 50 goals for Blackburn in 66 appearances.
Liverpool's previous fastest to 50 was Fernando Torres, who reached the landmark after 72 games in 2009.
United's major goal threats in recent weeks have been Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford with 14 goals between them in Solskjaer's nine Premier League games in charge - but they also seem to have struck up quite an understanding.
In eight Premier League starts together under the Norwegian, the pair have created 12 chances for one another - that's compared to only two in 11 games under Mourinho this season.
Rashford has assisted one goal for Pogba under Solskjaer, while Pogba has returned the favour twice - Rashford's goals in the 1-0 wins away to Tottenham and Leicester.
With so much to play for on Sunday, could their developing partnership be a deciding factor again?
Or can Liverpool's front three finally find their scoring form against United? Find out on Super Sunday - live and exclusive from Old Trafford - with coverage starting on Sky Sports Premier League at 1pm.Play Super 6
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Last Updated: 20/02/19 8:34amJurgen Klopp and Niko Kovac had a heated exchange at full-time
Jurgen Klopp and Niko Kovac appeared to have a heated confrontation after Liverpool's goalless draw with Bayern - but both managers were keen to play down the incident as a misunderstanding in their post-match press conferences.
Liverpool boss Klopp looked annoyed at his Bayern Munich counter-part and, after wagging a finger at the Croatian, shook hands and walked off as Kovac tried to hold onto his arm.
However, Klopp later insisted all was well between the pair, explaining his issue was only with Kovac celebrating the result with his players instead of going over to shake his hand straight after the full-time whistle.
"No, no, no. I wanted to shake Niko's hand immediately and then he went in the crowd of his players," said Klopp. "I thought he shakes the whole of Bayern's hands.0:26 Klopp turns his focus now to Manchester United on Sunday following his side's 0-0 draw at home to Bayern Klopp turns his focus now to Manchester United on Sunday following his side's 0-0 draw at home to Bayern
"Then when he came back I said 'I am waiting' and he apologised and I said no problem and he wants to apologise again. That's how it was."
Kovac took a similar view on the incident but argued managers expect to congratulate their players before seeking out their opponent in Germany and it had merely been a clash of cultures.
"That was funny," said the Bayern boss. "We were on English soil. In Germany it is normal when games end you shake hands with your players.1:57 Klopp says his side's final pass let them down against Bayern but that he was not disappointed with the result Klopp says his side's final pass let them down against Bayern but that he was not disappointed with the result
"In England, first the coaches shake hands. So I did what I did in Germany, said sorry and made up for it. And in Germany we will do it as we do it in Germany."
Klopp accepted an FA charge of misconduct earlier this season for his celebrations in the Merseyside derby.
The two managers will meet again in three weeks' time for the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie in Munich.Play Super 6
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Ruthlessness in front of goal at the Allianz Arena is key to Liverpool’s hopes of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals, Andy Robertson believes.
The Reds played out a gripping 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich in Tuesday’s last-16 first leg at Anfield, meaning the tie remains in the balance ahead of next month’s second game in Germany.
Left-back Robertson acknowledged a sense of frustration at the outcome of a keenly-fought contest, but he feels Jürgen Klopp’s side can get the result they need at the Allianz in order to continue their Champions League journey.
“We’re at home [so] of course we’re disappointed,” the Scotland captain told Liverpoolfc.com.
“We want to win every home game that we play especially, but we came up against a very experienced team: a team that have been here and done it for six or seven years now and they knew how to frustrate us, they knew how to frustrate the fans and they did it well.
“But we had chances to win the game. If we took them on another day then of course the result’s different, but I don’t think anyone can argue that the draw was probably the fair result.
“Of course they’ll be happier with a clean sheet but a clean sheet at home in the Champions League is so crucial because we know that when we go over there one goal counts as a wee bit more than that, and if we can grab one then they have to score two at least.
“These are all things that come into play and with the chances we’ve got, if we can be a bit more clinical we believe we can score over there.
“We back ourselves to win any game whether it’s home or away, and tonight that’s why we’re disappointed. Going over there’s a new challenge, there’s probably be a wee bit more pressure on them than us because they’re at home and their fans will start demanding things.
“We can try and play our game and try and create the chances that we need and get goals, and if that happens it’ll put us in the driving seat.
“But it’s a long way away now and it needs to get put to the back of the mind because we’ve got big Premier League games coming up so Bayern are forgotten about for just now.”
The first half of Tuesday’s game was played at a frantic pace, with the second period a somewhat more cerebral affair.
That change, Robertson said, was down to a minimising of errors from both teams.
“I think the first half was based on mistakes, really, I think both teams made quite a lot of errors in losing balls and it was all about regaining possession,” he stated.
“That’s why it was probably so hectic and there was a wee bit more quality in the second half, that’s why it was probably a wee bit calmer. There wasn’t many chances [in the first half], but every chance that they got and we got came from mistakes so at half-time we had to cut them out.
“We were losing the ball in midfield and in crucial areas - I’d given the ball away, Trent as well. We were all giving the ball away in crucial areas and it had to stop. I think second half we were better on the ball without creating anything, and so were they and that’s why there were probably so few chances in the second half.”
First up in the run of ‘big Premier League games’ prior to the second leg mentioned by Robertson is Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
The No.26 continued: “It’s another huge game. The boys need to recover and we get going. I think it’ll be a bit of a different game than we faced the last time… under this new manager they’ve picked up and they’re a very different team, especially at home, and it’ll be a tough task.
“We need to bring our A-game and if we can do that then hopefully we’ve got enough to win.”
Jürgen Klopp believes Liverpool can work with the 0-0 result they were held to by Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League showdown.
The last-16 tie is finely poised for the return game in Germany next month after an intriguing but goalless tussle between the Reds and the Bundesliga title-holders at Anfield on Tuesday night.
Klopp’s team created the better chances across the opening 90 minutes of the affair but found no way through and so everything is to play for when they meet again at the Allianz Arena in three weeks.
Read a summary of the manager’s post-match press conference below…
On how positive he can be…
It’s not the result or the game we dreamed of. Not really a lot of things happened in the game but it was an intense one. You saw the respect both teams had for each other. A lot of situations I didn’t see in all the games when we watched Munich, to be honest – like how the full-backs stayed in their own half protecting, how Gnabry defended on the wing in two-v-one situations, and stuff like that. There was a lot of respect involved in the game and that made life uncomfortable. But in the first half we still had chances; if Sadio hits the ball a bit better, he strikes twice with a bicycle kick, which is obviously pretty rare. How it always is, a goal would have changed the game. It was like it was. The first half was still absolutely OK, we created. In the second half nobody created anymore.
Our problem tonight was, on one hand the quality of the opponent of course, but on the other hand our last pass was not our friend. We had 10 or 12 situations where everything was prepared, everything was on a plate, and then we played a very average last pass or gave it away. That caused us two problems; one, we didn’t create a chance, and on the other hand we gave them the ball and they had a counter-attack, which made the game even more intense. But how it is in situations like that, I’m pretty sure at the moment Bayern feel a bit better than we do but we have three weeks, and day by day the result will feel a bit better for us and a bit worse for Bayern. It’s 0-0, the best draw you can get. It will be a tough one again to play at Bayern. If we win 1-0 tonight, what would have changed really? Then a 0-0 is enough as well, or we draw 1-1 – but that’s now enough as well. So it’s not perfect but good enough to work with.
On whether Liverpool’s sharpness was affected by the gap in fixtures…
The 10-day break? What does the final pass have to do with that? You have to look at the game and think about the game, and not prepare a question because we had a 10-day break. I have no clue why we didn’t play the last pass. The sharpness has nothing to do with the last pass, it’s about being in the moment, doing the right steps. You saw the situations, it had nothing to do with 10 days’ [break]. We cannot change it, we had the 10-day break and now we will not have any break anymore, now we play through – and if it was a problem tonight then we will not have that problem anymore because now we play every three days.
On how Liverpool will prepare for the weekend trip to Manchester United…
Now we have to recover and then we have to prepare for Manchester United – and they are obviously in good shape, which we all saw yesterday [against Chelsea]. I don’t think about it now, but I know it will come and now we start preparing that game. It’s another tough one and that’s how football is at a top club – we played Bayern tonight and then Man United at the weekend, that’s cool actually, but it will not be easy of course.
On whether he feels Bayern have ‘weakness’ to be exploited in Germany…
I would be really silly if I would have seen weaknesses and then I would say now, ‘Yes, they have problems at home.’ They don’t have problems. We will see who is fit that night; for us that’s important and for them important. Bayern had a couple of problems tonight, Goretzka I am pretty sure will play in that game and then maybe Arjen Robben is fit, so that can make a big difference with his experience. Maybe Ribery starts. There are a lot of things that can change, but we will get a player back at least [Virgil van Dijk] and we can play better than we did tonight. This game is not decided. I don’t think there is any weak team – and for sure no team who are at home are weak. Bayern are not. It’s not decided. What we wanted tonight was to get a result that we can work with – and we can work with that result. As I said, it’s not decided and we still feel like we are properly in the competition, but we have to show that in three weeks.
A lot has been made of the fact that Joe Gomez has been out injured for Liverpool this season – and the impact that that has on Liverpool’s defence. But comparatively, not as much has been made of the impact of losing Trent Alexander-Arnold for a period of time – with Trent missing six of Liverpool’s last eleven games through two injuries and making his return as a sub against Bournemouth.
So how much impact does Trent have on the team – both in attack and in defence? In this article I want to explore how Liverpool have performed with and without Trent this year, as well as how well Trent has personally performed, to try and get to the bottom of that.
Starting with the results in general, and I want to focus on the Premier League as that’s where I can most accurately compare xG numbers using Understat . Liverpool have won 14 of their 17 Premier League games where Trent has featured predominantly (for clarity, I’m including the Burnley game where Trent came inside 25 minutes but not the Bournemouth game), drawing with Chelsea and Arsenal as well as their defeat to Man City. Conversely, they’ve won six of nine without Trent, drawing to City, West Ham and Leicester.
That’s a win percentage of 67% and 2.33 points per game without him, compared to an 82% win ratio and 2.59 points per game with him. Nine games isn’t a huge sample size, but 17 is almost half a season and that’s a 98 point season with Trent in the side (and an 89 point season without him).
In terms of defending, what actually sparked part of this article was this tweet (thread) by Simon Brundish – in which he points out Liverpool’s defensive record with and without Trent in the PL.But what’s interesting is that despite those numbers themselves indicating that Trent has made a big difference to the defence, the sample sizing again makes a huge difference to the numbers, as does whether you count Spurs’ late goal against Liverpool – a game in which Trent played 90 mins but Spurs scored as soon as he went off.
If you factor that goal as being in Trent’s tally, LFC have conceded nine in 17 games with him or 0.53 goals per game, and 0.67 without him (six in nine). If you take it out since he wasn’t on the pitch – which you should – then it’s 0.47 with him and 0.78 without per game.
This is not to invalidate Brundish’s point, merely to demonstrate that fine margins make huge differences when you’re dealing with sample sizes. Neverthless, again you have a relatively big sample size with Trent on the field – over 1500 minutes, and conceding just eight goals in what is now 1519 minutes on the field (190 minutes per goal) is terrific (as mentioned – essentially 0.47 goals against per 90).
However, if you look at the underlying numbers, that’s where things get a bit more complicated. Liverpool have conceded 0.72 xGA on average in those 17 games where Trent has played, compared with 0.82 when he has played. So despite conceding considerably less goals, Liverpool tend to ship a slightly higher xGA.
So I looked at big chances against, to see if that made a difference related to their league position. The Reds have shipped five big chances without Trent on the field, at a rate of 0.55 per game. When he has been on the field, they’ve shipped 20 in 17, or 1.18. So defensively, despite conceding more xGA and more big chances, Liverpool have shipped considerably less goals. Again, sample sizes, but that’s interesting.
The bigger difference is actually, considerably so, in Liverpool’s attack. With Trent in the side, Liverpool manage 2.37 xG, without him that dips to 1.63. The Reds have created 14 big chances at 1.54 per game without him, compared to a staggering 57 with him – that’s 3.35 per game.
That difference doesn’t necessarily translate entirely to goals – Liverpool have scored 40 goals at 2.35 with him and 19 at 2.11 without him, but nevertheless, that level of creativity in attack is massive. With Trent, that’s a 90 xG, 89 goal season with 127 big chances, compared to 62 xG, 80 goals (that seems an unsustainable ratio) 59 big chance season. That’s a genuinely colossal difference and again, whilst the sample sizes play a factor, there’s no doubt that that’s noticeable.
Trent himself has made a sizeable contribution to the attack too – as you might expect. Whilst he’s only on one goal and three assists, he’s been a somewhat solid creative force for the team. In terms of xA/90, he’s fifth in the squad on 0.16 behind Salah (0.34), Milner (0.32), Robbo (0.21) and Bobby (0.20)and higher than Mané (0.14), Shaqiri (0.12) and comfortably higher than any of our CMs not named Milner. To fit that, he’s also fifth on assists for LFC with three – Milner and Bobby on four, Robbo on six and Salah seven.
And on top of that, in terms of xG Build/90, he’s also fifth of Liverpool’s regular starters (those who have played at least three full sets of ninety minutes) on 0.42 – this time behind Milner (0.52),Hendo (0.47),Naby (0.46) and Robbo (0.43).
What these numbers show is that whilst Trent isn’t necessarily a pivotal player in the attack, he’s one of the most important cogs outside of the front three. Both of Liverpool’s full-backs are hugely important to the way that they play football, as these numbers demonstrate with Robbo consistently up there too, and it really shows that when Trent is missing, Liverpool don’t have the same threat.
When you think of Liverpool’s most important players, you think of Van Dijk, Salah and Mané. But Alexander-Arnold isn’t necessarily a player that people would include on that list. Nevertheless, it’s clear that he’s a player with not only a huge future for the club, but already a player that Klopp can find himself relying on.
It would be easy to see Trent as simply one for the future, and even announcements such as this one from ESPN about his new contract indicate that his renewal isn’t as important as say the renewals of Salah or Firmino, but it’s fair to say that he’s not just a player with a bright future, but a player that is already of critical importance to the way that Liverpool play.
Again to make the comparisons with Gomez. Liverpool have largely been able to cope with Gomez’s injury defensively, with Lovren and Matip filling in admirably, but they haven’t been quite able to cope with Trent’s loss in quite the same way, especially not when both have been out at the same time.
If Liverpool are to win the league, which right now you’d say they are still favourites to do, then Trent’s fitness could prove a key feature. Right now, if I were a betting man, and certainly I think that this title race will end up proving an interesting one to bet on, then I’d say that the odds of Liverpool winning the title will improve now that Trent is fit, and Klopp will be hoping that he stays fit.
As for the future? If Trent is already one of Liverpool’s most important players, then who knows how good he can be when he hits his prime. Liverpool are really lucky to have him, and that has been demonstrated this season.
Liverpool were held to a 0-0 draw in a tense encounter against Bayern Munich at Anfield, with the Champions League last-16 tie in the balance.
Champions League last 16, first leg
February 19, 2019
Goals: N/AFabinho at the back
There was, in particular, an excellent block tackle on Robert Lewandowski inside the penalty area, as well as a couple of impressive moments of positioning which allowed him to intercept a cut-back or cross.
His timing was excellent, his covering work good and his passing into midfield was progressive, calm and assured.
Liverpool needed a big player at the back against a dangerous attack, and Fabinho came up with the performance the Reds needed.Clean sheet to take to the Allianz
Rule No. 1 in a home leg in Europe: if you can’t win, don’t concede.
The Reds didn’t just keep a clean sheet against Bayern Munich, they didn’t even let the Bavarians have a shot on target – the first time they have failed to register a shot on target in Europe since May 2015, against Barcelona.
On one side, no Van Dijk and a rearranged defence. On the other, Robert Lewandowski with eight goals in six group games, and Bayern with 19 goals in six games in 2019, at least three in each match up until they came to Anfield.
Those early scares came courtesy of some sloppy footwork from the goalkeeper, either taking too long to pass out or giving awkward balls under pressure.
Liverpool can ill-afford costly errors in tight, high-stakes games like these.
But he, and the team, were far better thereafter—and the clean sheet at Anfield might just prove priceless in the second leg.Trio in turn
Three cheers for the three in middle—for the most part.
Gini Wijnaldum started the game in the same way as he has played most of the season: dynamic, with excellent technique and plenty of drive.
He did fade after half an hour, as the ball seemed to rove elsewhere, but he was a vital part of Liverpool starting with a good tempo and, when on his game, he’s the match of any opponent: good strength, short turning circle, great passing range.
Naby Keita, the other forward-thinking member who played somewhat more to the left, was probably the most productive midfielder on the night for the Reds.
More than once his ability to drive forward, producing a stepover and sending an opponent the wrong way, opened up promising space for the team.
Just the end product was lacking, but that could be said for just about everyone on the pitch.
And Jordan Henderson. The skipper has his critics, and on many occasions those have been justified.
But his first-half performance against Bayern was arguably the best 45 minutes he has given under Jurgen Klopp: ball-winning with regularity, covering for team-mates with maturity and awareness—and even a couple of incisive, pinged passes, once giving Mohamed Salah a free run on goal.
He was a little off the tempo after the break with his passing, but that was also down to a lack of movement ahead.
Henderson had a big role to play on Tuesday and he certainly lived up to it.Over-reliance on the attack
But… for all the praise the midfield deserve, there is a fundamental aspect of their play which is missing: a goalscoring threat. From any of them.
Without Wijnaldum playing the much higher-running, attacking role as he did against Bournemouth, and in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain‘s continuing absence, there’s simply nobody from the centre of the park whoever looks like a match-winner.
The forwards worked tremendously hard in the opening hour, with a ridiculously high press right up to the six-yard box at times, and it showed in the final stages of the game.
Sadio Mane was comfortably the biggest threat, but the half-chances which fell his way were rushed and off-target.
Two shots at Manuel Neuer in the whole game simply wasn’t enough—just one in the second 45—simply wasn’t enough from the team as a whole, but if Mane, Roberto Firmino or Salah weren’t able to find a route to goal, who can?
Klopp has to find a way to free up another player somewhere in the side and not continue this over-reliance on the main trio.Second leg and looking ahead
All to play for at the Allianz Arena, then. A score draw sends the Reds through, which might be just as well considering the performances put in during the group stage away from home.
Make no mistake: Liverpool will need their best away performance since the Etihad in last season’s quarter-finals if they are to reach this year’s last eight.
But, before that, the Premier League fight resumes and there’s a title to win much closer to home.
Manchester United are next up on Sunday and perhaps this key, intense, high-value game is the perfect preparation for it.
Liverpool need as good defence against United as they showed against Bayern, and perhaps something extra in attack.
If they have both, they’re a better team than Man United, new management or not.
Onward, Reds, and back to winning ways.
Liverpool’s Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich is finely poised after Tuesday’s goalless first-leg draw at Anfield.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium at both ends as two evenly-matched teams duked it out, meaning a place in the quarter-finals remains very much up for grabs when they meet again at the Allianz Arena in three weeks’ time.
Read on for five talking points that emerged from an engrossing first leg…
Fabinho fills in just fine
With Virgil van Dijk suspended and Dejan Lovren ruled out by injury along with Joe Gomez, Jürgen Klopp partnered Joel Matip with Fabinho at centre-back.
That the Brazilian, a midfielder by trade, looked anything-but out of place while up against a striker of the class of Robert Lewandowski in an unfamiliar role speaks volumes for his ability and game intelligence.
No Liverpool player made more clearances than the 25-year-old (three), while one of his two tackles - a clean, sliding effort to dispossess Lewandowski as Bayern’s No.9 looked to swivel and shoot from close range - could prove pivotal to the outcome of a balanced tie.
The captain leads the way
Most ball regains, most tackles, most passes, most passes in the opposition half.
Jordan Henderson’s performance was quantifiably outstanding as Liverpool’s captain led his side with an air of authoritative certainty.
The speed at which he reacted to quell the danger after a misplaced Sadio Mane pass offered Bayern a sniff of a chance late in the opening 45 minutes was appreciated warmly by his manager and teammates, as well as the Anfield crowd.
And the home fans’ relief was palpable when the skipper picked himself up and resumed his hugely impressive display after he’d gone down following a 50-50 challenge with Thiago Alcantara in the second half.
Bobby the ever-present
Roberto Firmino recovered from illness in time to maintain his record of being the only player to feature in all of Liverpool’s European fixtures under Klopp’s management.
This was the boss and his No.9’s 35th continental game with the Reds and, typically, the latter was the hub of his team’s attacking endeavours: a roaming presence who married ingenuity with industry.
The Brazilian's efforts were not rewarded on the scoreboard, but he was afforded a richly-deserved standing ovation when being substituted with 15 minutes remaining.
Alisson’s case of déjà vu
Had Alisson Becker not produced an incredible injury-time save against Napoli at Anfield back in December, the Reds would not have been in the last 16 at all.
And, should Liverpool end up progressing to the quarter-finals, the stop their goalkeeper made in the early stages on Tuesday may be looked back on as a similarly crucial intervention.
Twelve minutes had elapsed when Serge Gnabry drilled low across the Kop-end’s six-yard box that, under duress from Lewandowski, Matip diverted goalwards.
But the ball slammed in to the huge, yellow-shirted frame of Alisson to deny Bayern an away goal that would’ve swung the tie in their favour.
A trio of records go on
That it ended all square meant three notable and impressive Liverpool records were extended.
The Reds have never lost to German opposition at home, with that sequence now standing at 20 matches (16 wins, four draws), while they have not tasted defeat to any club at Anfield in their last 20 European fixtures (14 wins, six draws).
Additionally, Klopp’s personal unbeaten run in continental competition at Anfield lengthened to 17 games (13 wins, four draws).
Liverpool kept an important clean sheet in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Bayern Munich, but a 0-0 draw leaves work to do.
Champions League Last 16, Anfield
February 19, 2019
Alisson (out of 10) – 6
Was hit by Joel Matip‘s wild clearance early on, and though it went straight at him and he knew little about it, it was great positioning from the Brazilian.
There was a dicey moment shortly after which put Matip in trouble, perhaps payback for that earlier incident…
He nudged a Serge Gnabry shot wide which was going out anyway and played a couple of neat balls out from the back, but not as many as we’re used to from him.
Looked a lot like Manuel Neuer in both style and stature, which is a good thing.
Made a good cross to Mohamed Salah as a failed clearance ended up at his feet.
Generally good in defence up against Kingsley Coman and then for a short time against Franck Ribery later in the game.
Got into some good positions in attack but his delivery wasn’t the best. Maybe should have chosen to shoot on some occasions.
That said he did make four key passes and three interceptions, both squad-highs for Liverpool.
Joel Matip – 7
Showed some decent pace against Coman early on, but was put under pressure by Alisson and couldn’t deal with it, trying some kind of flick which didn’t come off.
Missed a chance from Roberto Firmino‘s cross in the first half, then spooned one over from the edge of the area in the second.
There was a good intervention to turn the ball over for a corner ahead of Robert Lewandowski, and a couple of good moments defensively in the second half.
His worst moment was probably a pass which went straight out of play, but did well to be part of a unit which kept a clean sheet against a team which rarely fail to score.
Fabinho – 8
It was a big ask to play out of position up against one of the best modern-day centre-forwards, but Fabinho performed admirably.
Lost a few headers early on but soon began to hold his own against Lewandowski and work him out.
He made an important tackle on the No. 9 at the start of the second half, and made another great tackle on Coman later in the game.
Looks like Liverpool’s second best centre-back.
Andy Robertson – 6
This game looked set to be a Robertson-Kimmich showcase down the left, but neither were at their best.
The Liverpool man did well enough in defence, other than heading waywardly into a dangerous area at one point, but like Trent on the other side he wasn’t composed enough in attack.
One of the few moments he looked like his usual self almost led to the first goal, but Sadio Mane‘s header from his cross was saved by Neuer.
Jordan Henderson – 8 (Man of the Match)
Played a nice ball over the top for Salah early on, but the winger couldn’t quite get a good shot away after bringing it down.
Made sure the team won throw-ins which weren’t theirs with some good appeals to the linesman.
The captain won the ball back in a couple of key moments after Liverpool had given it away.
Booked in the second half and seemed to go into his shell after this, but it was still a good 90 minutes overall.
Gini Wijnaldum – 7
Strong against Javi Martinez: the only way they could stop him early on was by fouling him.
Got in Salah’s way during one dangerous attack in the second half, but other than that he was generally solid, just not clinical in attack.
Tailed off towards the end of the game and made a few wasteful passes, but remains the most consistent midfielder in the squad.
Naby Keita – 7
Getting into it. Even tried an overhead kick in the first half but it drifted harmlessly wide.
Unpredictable, in a good way, and looked like the player most likely to make something happen going forward.
His deflected shots led to a couple of chances, but he was taken off with 15 minutes to go.
Mohamed Salah – 6
Put a header wide at the far post in the first half from Trent’s cross. It looked like a decent chance, but maybe it wasn’t that easy to control.
Was tackled by Wijnaldum during one dangerous moment in the Bayern penalty area, which was something he could have done without in a game of limited chances.
He also struggled to make any for himself against Mats Hummels and David Alaba.
Sadio Mane – 6
Missed a great chance when a blocked shot landed at his feet. He dragged his left-footed effort wide.
Attempted what looked like the most out of control overhead kick, but it ended up closer to the goal than his earlier effort.
Made a good connection with a Robertson cross but it was saved at the near post by Neuer.
Was getting into good areas but struggling to do good things once there.
Roberto Firmino – 6
Good cross into a dangerous area, but unfortunately it was Matip in said area.
Linked play well and created a few chances, but was taken off at the same time as Keita in the second half.Substitutes
James Milner (on for Keita, 76′) – 6
Made a strong tackle seconds after coming on, and it was his link up with Robertson which led to that good chance for Mane.
Divock Origi (on for Firmino, 76′) – N/A
Slotted into the middle of the front three but offered little.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Shaqiri, Lallana, SturridgeManager
Jurgen Klopp – 7
It was a good team selection using Wijnaldum and Keita on the sides of a midfield three, and using Fabinho in place of Van Dijk was the best thing the manager could have done in the circumstances.
He might have brought Xherdan Shaqiri off the bench to try to win the game, and you could argue that the pair who came off—Firmino and Keita—had looked the most like creating something going forward, but Firmino had been ill the night before.
0-0 against Bayern isn’t the worst result, and to prevent them from scoring for the first time since October, with a makeshift defence, is good going.Player ratings definitions: 10 = Faultless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very Good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very Bad | 2 Awful | 1 = Surely Not Make Your Ratings