With both teams fighting on domestic and continental fronts, the outcome of this tie could have a major bearing on their season.
When Liverpool gears up to fight Bayern Munich in Anfield, there will be a question that will be going through the back of the mind of both Jurgen Klopp and Niko Kovac. What of the League? As the two European heavyweights go head-to-head, the age-old question crops up in a menacing fashion. Will focussing on the Champions League be detrimental to the league campaign?
Liverpool and Bayern Munich will no doubt have in mind that the fixture comes during a crucial juncture in each of their league campaigns. Liverpool sit tied on points with league leaders Manchester City on the summit, with a game-in-hand to boast of.
For the Reds, this campaign has been dream-like. They stand close to a landmark first Premier League title and the campaign has shaped up to be theirs to lose. Jurgen Klopp’s side has shown remarkable character to pull away close wins and also thrashing opponents soundly when chances present themselves.
The Reds are seeking a first domestic title in more than 25 years
With a towering Virgil Van Dijk in defense, clinical Alisson in goal and a stellar front three to take pride in, Liverpool had separated themselves from the herd. However, recent performances saw the lead cut down, with the Cityzens taking over the top spot.
Bayern Munich, on the other hand, risk losing the league title to rivals Borussia Dortmund for the first time in seven years. The German powerhouses had been comfortably ahead of the remaining Bundesliga but under new manager Niko Kovac, the Bavarians look ordinary.
Lucien Favre has tapped into Dortmund’s potential to carve a splendid attacking side which poses Bayern’s seventh consecutive title challenge a serious threat. With the Yellows leading the league by a comfortable margin, Bayern will need good, consistent performances, if they are to overturn the advantage Borussia has. And the distraction of Champions League could prove to be a bane more than a boon.
Both the teams have a very deep and talented roster. Liverpool used the transfer window at the beginning of the season efficiently, adding the likes of Fabinho, Xherdan Shaqiri, Alisson Becker and Naby Keita to their previous squad with very few signifcant departures.
However, despite several significant performances at the beginning of the season, the rotation players have failed to impact the game. After successive draws against Leicester and West Ham, Liverpool’s title challenge shows all signs of crumbling.
Bayern Munich face a stern challenge from Borussia Dortmund to retain their crown
Bayern’s problem comes with age as several of their key players have started to slowly succumb to their maturity. The likes of Ribery, Robben, Neuer and Boateng have been below par this season.
Jerome Boateng, especially, has been a consistent underperformer this season, with the German constantly getting outrun and overworked by opposition attackers. Such a scenario, has allowed Niko Kovac, very less breathing space and no room for errors.
Winning the European double is not unheard of. Several teams have accomplished it since the inception of the Champions League. However, during the last seven years, only three teams have manged a double. In fact, Spanish giants Real Madrid, who won the Champions League four out of a possible five times since 2014 have only managed it once. Even in the English scene, a gruelling schedule has only allowed the likes of Manchester United to pull off a double.
For Klopp and several of his players, memories of last season’s campaign are still afresh. But last season’s surge came at a time when the league title was already out of reach. This season with a league title, Klopp would be able to right the wrongs of Brendan Rodgers’ 2013-14 season.
Kovac, will look not to stumble. Any blotch in the league campaign will hit his reputation hard and he will have to try his best not to concede the league title to Dortmund. With league titles on the balance, both Klopp and Kovac will need to take a careful and well-planned decision.