Liverpool will put their Premier League title aspirations aside tonight as they hunt down European glory at home to Bayern Munich.
This phase of the season is all about pressure. You’re either giving it or taking it. And right now Liverpool are taking it. They’re taking it from Manchester City in the Premier League, and they’re about to take it from Bayern tonight.
Can Jurgen Klopp, Mo Salah and co handle it? We highlighted earlier this week how the German boss has struggled to juggle domestic and European success.
A number of defensive issues won’t help the Reds, either, and we’ll learn more about their trophy-winning credentials at a bouncing Anfield this evening…
After a pair of draws against Leicester City and West Ham United, a 3-0 win over Bournemouth 10 days ago was the perfect fillip for Klopp’s side. They’re 21/20 favourites to win this first leg.
But Bayern are hitting form at just the right time under Niko Kovac after a slow start to the season. They’ve won 11 of their last 14 matches, and are a 12/5 shot for victory tonight.
There’s 13/5 about a draw, while 4/7 says both teams score. That’s happened in each of Bayern’s last six games, and also occurred the last time these two sides met in the 2001 European Super Cup Final.
Klopp may have to partner Fabinho and Joel Matip at the centre of defence, with Virgil van Dijk suspended, Joe Gomez injured and Dejan Lovren nursing a hamstring concern.
Further forward, Roberto Firmino, Xherdan Shaqiri and Georginio Wijnaldum should be able to shake off various ailments to make the starting XI.
The flu has also struck Bayern’s Jerome Boateng, while the Bundesliga kingpins are also sweating on the fitness of winger Kingsley Coman. There’ll be no Arjen Robben at Anfield, with the Dutch legend battling a thigh injury.
We know Liverpool and Klopp will go 4-3-3 with Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane up front. The key question is how successfully can they break down a Bayern side poised to launch offensive breaks on the counter?
Robert Lewandowski will lead the line for Die Munchen. Coman should be fit enough to start on the left flank, with James Rodriguez and former Arsenal man Serge Gnabry completing the trio of supporting roles.
They’ll be confident of getting a vital away goal against a Liverpool defence missing the man many now regard as the best centre-half in the game in Van Dijk.
That man Salah heads up the first goalscorer market at 4/1. But it says plenty about Bayern’s pedigree that the Egyptian is joined at the top of the betting by Lewandowski at the same price.
How to watch: BT Sport 2
Click here for all our Liverpool v Bayern Munich odds.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication