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Football News: Bayern Munich v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective

Bayern Munich v Liverpool - A Liverpool Perspective
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Bayern Munich v Liverpool A Liverpool Perspective

 


Very much a game of two halves. The first was a close battle, with Liverpool getting the better of it but Bayern were very much in it. However the second was dominated by LFC and they took almost complete control over the game. While this was not a vintage Bayern side, they were good enough to take back the lead in the Bundesliga at the weekend and to get to the knockout stages of the Champions League. They were not good enough to get close to beating Liverpool though.

 



Kovac - far too cautious to really even have a go at Liverpool at any point over the two legs. He never even made it into a genuine battle with his tactical choices and substitutions. He was completely outdone by Klopp.

His plan seemed to revolve around two main things. One to break the press by having his players throw themselves to the ground if anyone got close enough to breath on them. Which seemed to work when the player diving put that together with screams and throwing his arms in the air, then shouting at the ref afterwards. In fact he only seemed to give James a lot of decisions purely because James told him to!

Secondly they were as physical as they thought they could get away with to stop Liverpool getting into their stride. Which amazes me that so few of their players saw cards. They were making some wild challenges and constantly grabbing shirts. Liverpool players had to jump out of the way of a lot of lunges that would normally be an automatic booking.

Other than that they were tactically limited to putting the ball in behind the full backs, where there was a lot of space and for the wingers to cross it into the box. The problem was that the wingers allowed themselves to get driven back by Liverpool and so that plan was no longer viable in the second half and Kovac did not seem to know how to alter it. Rating: 1.

 

Neuer - had a complete brain fart on the opening goal, other than that he was decent. A solid performance considering that mistake must have been on his mind. However that mistake was terrible. Rating: 4.

 

Rafinha - he will be having nightmares about Mane for months after that. He was totally out of his depth trying to cope. Rating: 0.5.

 

Sule - made some decent blocks and interceptions and was decent on the ball but overall he was given a bit of a chasing. Despite having Thiago and Martinez providing cover, he was finding himself struggling to cope with the movement. He does not have the mobility to go with them and there was little communication at the back or with midfield to get help. Rating: 3.

 

Hummels - the commentator seemed to think he was the second coming by the way he eulogised about his brilliance and how much Germany will miss him. I am not sure what game he watched though, he did ok, but he was exposed a number of times and was often out of position. Rating: 3.

 

Alaba - struggled to get into the game at all. When he did get forward he looked a threat, but he was simply not good enough defensively. Rating: 2.5.

 

Martinez - terrible game, he was unable to keep up with the pace moving around him and offered little on the ball, unusually for him. Rating: 2.

 

Thiago - one of Bayern's better players, he put himself about, but he was also not at his best on the ball. Rating: 5.

 

Gnabry - put the ball in for their goal but other than that he was ineffective. He got caught between two stools, too deep to get properly involved going forward and too far forward to help out properly on the defensive end. He had a real chance to do some damage to Liverpool, as he could get in behind Robertson at will, but he was not brave enough to stay up. Rating: 4.

 

James - wild lunges aside, his only contribution was in refereeing the goal and constantly giving himself free kicks for nothing. He just is not that good a player. Rating: 2.

 

Ribery - started well and was giving Alexander-Arnold a real lesson initially, but faded and allowed himself to be pushed back. Rating: 5.

 

Lewandowski - absolutely awful performance by the striker. He did get little service but he was losing the ball very easily and just trying to look for a free kick. Made little genuine effort to get himself involved. Rating: 1.

 

Subs:

Coman - replaced Ribery in the 61st minute. Very disappointing, probably got the most touches of the ball for Bayern in the second half but his end product was abysmal. Rating: 2.5.

Goretzka - took the place of Martinez in the 72nd minute. I really cannot think what he offered! Rating: 3.

Renato Sanches - brought on in the 79th minute to replace James. How is this guy still in professional football at the highest level?? Managed to get on the ball a few times but has the speed and reaction times of a half-asleep snail who is dosed up on barbiturates. It is like watching Jan Molby, but without any of the passing range or vision. And slower. Oh and less mobile. Rating: 1.

 


Klopp - we will never know if Klopp had it right from the start or if all the whiners were right and Klopp messed up with the midfield he picked initially. What we do know is that the team he picked went out and beat Bayern at home and won deservedly so. It was not even really a hard fought battle, though it never felt like it at the time, watching it back Liverpool just gradually ground Bayern down into dust. Two legs but Bayern barely registered a shot at goal worthy of the name, let alone on target and their only goal was an own goal resulting from a couple of errors, rather than anything good they did. Rating: 8.

 

Alisson - his calmness is a huge plus for the team. It also helps that, as well as being unflustered, he also does his job very well. When it seems the team is being put under pressure he will collect a cross. His ability on the ball is often put to the test as the ball is passed to him far too often, when it really should not be, but he dealt with it well. Rating: 7.

 

Alexander-Arnold - at times he was torn to bits by Ribery defensively. The problem is that he still has not got enough awareness defensively. When the press happens in front of him, he will stop and watch it happening (Robertson is guilty of this too) rather than dropping back into position. Then there is his actual one-on-one defending, which is terrible because he just does not get tight enough to a man to stop them. Most of the time he is stood a yard or two off, allowing them the space to beat him or cross.

When he did get tight, he was usually quick enough with his feet to nick the ball, though he does need to be stronger in the challenge as it often just seems to go through him. There is no lack of pace, no winger is going to get away from him if he gets tight, so he should be right on them, smothering them and forcing them to produce magic (Mane-style) to beat him. Instead he stands back a yard or two and makes it easy.

He is extremely effective in the attack, but he needs to learn how to close an opponent down, whether his future is at full-back or in the midfield. A press will not be effective if the opposition is given room to work it out. It is a shame because he was so good going forward that he should be getting a high rating. I also had to deduct because he has got into a habit of playing blind passes centrally and losing the ball every time. It has happened a number of times in the last few games and he needs to learn how to build a picture in his head of what is around him.

Some of his passing is exceptional, when he is looking up, crossfield passes to Robertson stand out. He links up really well going forward and has the potential to be a special player, if he can just improve on his defensive weaknesses. Rating: 6.

 

Matip - I still get palpitations when he is on the ball and this game was one of his worst performances in that respect. Even when he passes to a team mate, it tends to play them into trouble, forcing them to sprint to retrieve it or back to the keeper with players chasing the pass. His runs out of from the back are so uncontrolled, it is not like when Hansen used to stride imperiously forward with the ball at his feet. Matip stumbles and bumbles his way forward until eventually poking it blindly away in the hope of it reaching a team-mate.

However, what he did do in this game, which has been sadly lacking in his game before now, was try and make up for his errors. Chasing back to win the ball on the halfway line after one bumble forward gave it away. That is a huge leap forward. No player can ever be error-free, they are human, but they can make an effort to help out when they make a mistake. He did that and it made a massive difference as they could have broken away otherwise.

Also, it is good to see him trying to be more aggressive. It is clearly not natural to him and the bookings he is picking up are not necessary ones, but at least he is trying to be more physical and use his size and weight to his advantage. His reading of the game is still a weakness and he is still clumsy, which resulted in the own goal, as he was too slow to adjust his body to clear it, rather than just smash it into the back of the net. However he is showing signs of improving and that is something at least. Rating: 6.

 

van Dijk - not his best day defensively, he was caught out a few times positionally and got his body shape wrong when rushing out to try and force an offside. He was also very slow to close out a player in the full-back area when Robertson was out of position. It was like it was so easy for him he was caught half asleep. As usual his pace and power got him out of most jams.

On the ball he was mostly excellent, imperious even with some of his passing sublime. An assist and a goal is not a bad return for a centre back! It was noticeable that the Bayern players barely bothered to press him, as they were waiting for it to go to Matip, who is more likely to make a mistake and turnover the ball. Van Dijk's presence alone was enough to put them off bothering to press him. Rating: 7.5.

 

Robertson - defensively he was abysmal. Caught out of position a ridiculous number of times, though he does occasionally win it back high by doing that, it leaves a huge gaping hole in behind him. He needs to learn when to drop off and, when he has got back into position, not to ball watch. Also, would it be too much to ask him to actually try and stop a cross coming in? Added to that, the stupidity he showed in getting that late booking was, as his face clearly showed afterwards, terrible.

Despite all that, his overall game was not too bad. He was so much of a nuisance going forward that it made up for his poor defending. He linked up well with Mane, in particular. Got forward to real effect and forced Gnabry into no man's land in the second half. Rating: 5.5.

 

Wijnaldum - was, as usual, quietly effective, but in the more obvious way he has been this season of late. He has really stepped his game up this season. He really needs to get an away goal though! Rating: 8.

 

Henderson - never really got a chance to do much before his injury forced him off. Rating: 5.5.

 

Milner - it is beginning to come back for Milner. That early season form, when he was sensational, completely vanished for a while after he picked up an injury, but his last couple of performances have shown signs of his form returning. He is very quick to fill the space left by a full-back marauding forward, while having the energy to also get forward and involve himself in the attacks. No longer is he just getting in the way, like he did at times last season, he is picking and choosing his forward runs much better. Rating: 8.

 

Mane - what can you say about Mane? He was unplayable. Some of his skills were just world class and his first goal was sublime. When he first joined the Reds he was the key player, then he was surrounded with better players than were there originally, but he has just raised his game to become once more a key figure. I have to give him a 10 for this performance, it really was that good. Rating: 10.

 

Salah - his movement causes opponents so many problems and they had no idea how to deal with it or even who should be closing him down at times. On the ball he draws so many players towards him that he just needs to release the ball at the right time and there will be a goal there every time. That is his big problem right now, he is not getting that release of the ball quite right. There are so many players swarming round him that he is probably struggling to see the pass, so he is often trying to beat one more to create a moment to either take a shot or spot a pass. Rating: 8.

 

Firmino - it was noticeable that the performance dropped off after he went off. Origi does not have that same knowledge of when and where to press or how to force opponents into mistakes. Firmino is a key component of the team, not just his workrate, his tracking back, his tackles, his skill on the ball but the way he leads the press. It all stems from him. Rating: 8.5.

 

Subs:

Fabinho - replaced Henderson in the 13th minute. He was once more excellent. He is an extremely intelligent player, in football terms, he does not run around like a headless chicken and he does not just sit and wait for the game to come to him. Instead he is usually right there in the thick of it, taking charge. Rating: 8.5.

Origi - was brought on instead of Firmino in the 83rd minute. Had little time to do much but he worked hard and helped to see out the game in comfort. Rating: 5.5.

Lallana - chosen to replace Milner in the 87th minute. Little chance to really do anything much, but it is useful to have him coming on late in the game and not see any dip in workrate from Milner's performance! There are not many players you can bring on that will keep the energy levels as high as Milner does. Rating: 5.5.

 

Just to explain my ratings. I have gone for what I believe is more simple than the usual of totting up points. I have decided to go with 5 as having no effect on the game other than being a body on the pitch. Anything below 5 is a player who had a negative effect on his team and anything above 5 as a positive effect. So a goal scored would be a positive effect and add to the rating, whereas giving away a penalty with a needless challenge would take away from it.

Written by Tris Burke March 15 2019 09:41:14

 

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