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Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Liverpool - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides the team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of Wednesday's Champions League clash between Bayern Munich and Liverpool.

The Champions League last-16 tie between Bayern Munich and Liverpool remains well poised ahead of Wednesday's second leg at the Allianz Arena.

Neither side could find a way through on Merseyside in the reverse fixture, leaving it all to play for in a heavyweight tussle between the two five-time winners.

Bayern Munich

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson saves from Joel Matip during the Champions League clash with Bayern Munich on February 19, 2019© Reuters

Niko Kovac admitted after the goalless first leg at Anfield that it was hard to work out whether the result suited his side more or Liverpool. The answer to that question, of course, will be determined after the 90 minutes - or possibly more - this week.

Bayern certainly seemed to be happier with the stalemate, however, setting themselves up to keep Liverpool's front three of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino quiet.

Mane missed a couple of good opportunities and Joel Matip also squandered a great chance in a match of few talking points, with Bayern producing an impressive defensive performance to take a 0-0 draw back to Bavaria.

It is on home soil that the German champions believe they can win this game, having won their last four matches in Bavaria against English sides. Liverpool, meanwhile, have suffered four successive away losses in the Champions League stretching back into last season.

Liverpool will fancy their chances of scoring at least once at the Allianz Arena, meaning that Bayern will have to score twice. Kovac's side may have failed to have a single shot on target three weeks ago, a first in the Champions League since their semi-final against Barcelona in May 2015, but they have failed to score only once in their last 26 home games in the competition.

In striker Robert Lewandowski, they also boast a player who has scored 23 goals in his last 22 Champions League games at the Allianz Arena, including nine in 10 knockout games. Liverpool may have more defensive options now compared to last month, but keeping out the opposition will not be easy.

The two sides may have an identical record on the continent, but in recent years it is Bayern who have by far the better record. They are aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the eighth season running, last falling at this stage in 2010-11 against Inter Milan.

Bayern certainly have plenty of momentum heading into the midweek tussle, too, as they have won 11 of their last 13 matches, which includes fie successive wins in the German top flight.

Having been written off not so long ago in the race for the Bundesliga title, Kovac's side are now above Borussia Dortmund on goal difference thanks to their emphatic 6-0 win over Wolfsburg at the weekend. A repeat of that performance and it will surely be curtains for Liverpool.

Recent form in Champions League: DWWWDD
Recent form (all competitions): WWDWWW


Liverpool's Naby Keita attempts a bicycle kick during the Champions League clash with Bayern Munich on February 19, 2019© Reuters

In contrast to opponents Bayern, Liverpool have lost control of top spot in their domestic league to slip to second in the three weeks since the sides last faced off.

The Reds played out successive away draws against Manchester United and Everton, both finishing 0-0 to make it three stalemates in four matches heading into Sunday's home clash with Burnley.

Only a victory would do for Liverpool following Manchester City's 3-1 win over Watford a day beforehand to move four points clear at the top, and they managed to pick up all three points after falling behind to a contentious goal early on, prevailing 4-2 in the end.

Liverpool's Premier League title charge has stuttered over the course of the past two months, failing to win back-to-back games in that time. Already out of the FA Cup and beaten in the third round of the EFL Cup by Chelsea, a Champions League exit on Wednesday would leave all of Jurgen Klopp's eggs in one basket.

That, in many ways, would not be a bad thing as focus can remain solely on ending their long wait for a top-flight crown. City, by comparison, are still in the running for a quadruple.

Klopp will certainly not set out his side to lose in Bavaria, though, and Liverpool do still have a great chance of progressing, even if they have lost four in a row on their European travels, going down to Napoli, Red Star Belgrade and Paris Saint-Germain in the group phase, having also lost the second leg of their semi-final at Roma last May.

The Reds defied the odds somewhat to battle all the way to the final last time out, where they lost to a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid, but that only increased the pressure on Klopp to win silverware of some sort this season.

If they are to keep their European hopes alive then the aforementioned front three of Mane, Firmino and Salah simply have to click into gear.

Liverpool's only goal in their three away Champions League games this season was a James Milner penalty against PSG. Now, more than ever, the English giants need their talented attackers to step up and ensure that this season of so much promise does not end on a low note.

Recent form in Champions League: LWLLWD
Recent form (all competitions): WDDWDW

Team News

Virgil van Dijk in action for Liverpool on January 19, 2019© Reuters

Milner missed the weekend win against Burnley because of a muscle problem, but both he and Trent Alexander-Arnold, forced off late on with muscle tightness in the same match, should be available for selection on Wednesday.

Dejan Lovren has an outside chance of starting, too, having made the bench for the Burnley game. Even more importantly, though, Virgil van Dijk is back for Liverpool after missing the first leg through suspension.

A good performance from Adam Lallana last time out will do his chances of starting this crucial match no harm. Following a flat display in the first leg, changes are expected in central midfield, with Fabinho in line to return to a more advanced position after filling in at centre-back.

Liverpool do not have any suspensions to contend with, unlike Bayern who are without Thomas Muller - sent off for a poor tackle on Ajax's Nicolas Tagliafico in the final round of group matches - and right-back Joshua Kimmich.

Rafinha seems certain to fill in for Kimmich out wide, on the opposite flank to fitness doubt David Alaba, while a decision must be made on who starts at centre-back following Mats Hummels's return at the weekend.

Three assists from the bench against Wolfsburg for Franck Ribery may well see him take over from Muller in attack, which in turn would mean a change of flanks for Serge Gnabry.

If Manuel Neuer features, this will be his 100th game in the Champions League, making him the sixth goalkeeper to reach that landmark after Iker Casillas, Gianluigi Buffon, Petr Cech, Victor Valdes and Oliver Kahn.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Rafinha, Sule, Hummels, Alaba; Thiago, Martinez; Gnabry, James, Ribery; Lewandowski

Head To Head

Following last month's 0-0 draw, Bayern have won only one of their eight matches in European competition against Liverpool.

That came in the Cup Winners' Cup in November 1971, courtesy of two goals from Gerd Muller and one from Uli Hoeness in a 3-1 win in Munich.

The clubs' only previous encounter in the European Cup before this last-16 tie came in the 1980-91 semi-finals, with Liverpool progressing on away goals after a 1-1 aggregate draw, before going on to beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the final.

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We say: Bayern Munich 2-1 Liverpool

Sixty-eight per cent of the 31 previous teams to have drawn 0-0 away from home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie have ended up progressing to the next round. The odds are therefore in Bayern's favour, and having scored 11 goals in their last two matches, we are backing them to maintain their impressive record of reaching at least the quarter-finals.

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Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring for Bayern Munich on January 27, 2019
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