Munich (Germany): Jurgen Klopp brings Liverpool to Germany to resume their battle against Bayern Munich with the hosts billing Wednesday’s Champions League last 16 return leg as an all or nothing showdown.
After a goalless draw at Anfield in the first leg three weeks ago, everything is to play for at Munich’s Allianz Arena.
Klopp knows what awaits his Reds in the highly-charged arena where Bayern tend to raise their game and away teams face a barricade of whistles whenever they touch the ball.
“The four goals are all well and good,” said Klopp after Liverpool’s 4-2 win on Sunday at Burnley, with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane both scoring twice. “But what does that have to do with Munich? It will not be so easy to score four goals there as well.”
The 51-year-old has a modest record of nine wins, five draws and 16 defeats in 30 games against the Bavarians — as coach of either Liverpool or former clubs Mainz and Dortmund — dating back to 2004.
However, in his seven seasons with Dortmund, between 2008 and 2015, Klopp managed an impressive four wins, plus a draw and four defeats, from nine games in Munich.
He tasted victory on his last visit to the Allianz Arena in April 2015 when Dortmund beat Bayern on penalties in the semi-final of the German Cup.
Klopp knows that his team must walk tall at Bayern’s home.
“It’s a much more positive moment for Bayern. They are top of the table and winning games comfortably again,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website.
Bayern have hit form, winning their last three games with a goal ratio of 12-1 since the first-leg draw.
“But if we are at our best, we can be exceptional.”
Liverpool fans hope Reds’ striker Mo Salah has a red-letter day in Munich after just one goal in his last eight games.
The Liverpool match is seen as a season-defining tie for the German champions.
The five-time winners last failed to get through the last 16 stage in 2011 and confidence is high after they moved into top spot in the Bundesliga at the weekend for the first time since September.
Another opportunity knocks for Coutinho
In Barcelona, Philippe Coutinho was always going to have a hard time filling the void left by Andres Iniesta but just over a year into his Barcelona contract, the Brazilian might not have expected this.
Substituted during Barca’s win over Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou on Saturday, Coutinho was whistled by a small section of his own fans as he trudged off, replaced by World Cup winner Ivan Rakitic.
The Brazil playmaker has fallen behind Ousmane Dembele in the pecking order and, even with the youngster struggling for fitness ahead of their Champions League second leg against Lyon on Wednesday, Coutinho’s place is not guaranteed. Lyon took a goalless draw from the opening leg.
Signed for 160 million euros 14 months ago, Coutinho was supposed to become one of the drivers of this Barcelona team, an indispensable part of the starting line-up, not a back-up for an unpredictable, albeit supremely talented, 21-year-old.
When Dembele sprained his ankle in January, Coutinho was given a run in the side but his performances were largely underwhelming and when Dembele recovered, the French youngster returned to the side.
“Philippe is having a good season,” Gerard Pique said last weekend.
“He obviously cost a lot and that means there are higher expectations but it is what it is. You have to accept the reaction of the fans because at the end of the day they’re our fans. We all have to give him support because we need him at his best in the final stage of the season and I’m sure he will be,” Pique added....