Player ratings: Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich

Liverpool-vs-Bayern-players-on-pitch
It’s a funny old game. Two of Europe’s most prolific scorers, both having defensive problems, it couldn’t finish 0-0 right? Wrong. A fairly frustrating night at Anfield finished in stalemate but let’s take a look at how the lads fared individually.

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Alisson (5) - Right, I’ve just about had enough of Alisson’s nonsense with the ball at his feet. Almost every game without fail, he does something ridiculous while trying to play out from the back and last night was no different. Twice he put his team mates bang in trouble, once with just a horrendously poor pass out straight to a Bayern player but the second one infuriated me. Instead of just clearing the danger when there wasn’t a pass on, he hesitantly waits until the last second before playing a team mate into trouble and conceding a chance. This is happening in pretty much every game now, he’s been punished for it already and it’s only a matter of time before it costs us again.

TAA (6.5) - Bit of a mixed bag for Trent on his return from injury. Some really good forward running and intercepting and I thought he dealt admirably with the threat of Coman for the most part. Gave the ball away multiple times with sloppy passing however. Perhaps a little rusty after his injury. Having him back is a big plus though.

Matip (7.5) - Another solid display from Matip who took responsibility as our main centre half in Virgil’s absence. Got Alisson out of jail after his aforementioned nonsense, made some vital clearances and interceptions and got himself in some good attacking positions, although his execution in these positions does leave a lot to be desired. On current form, even when Lovren is fit, Matip should keep his place in my opinion. Keeping him fit will be important for the remainder of the season.

Fabinho (7.5) - Fabinho was really good I thought, considering it’s only the third time he’s played a competitive match at CB. You could tell he was playing out of position, his body shape is wrong at times for a defender and there was an early mix up with Alisson at a cross. This is to be expected however, from a midfielder playing at CB. He’s an expert one on one tackler though and made some excellent and vital tackles. Helped keep Europe’s most feared number nine quiet for the whole game.

Robertson (6) - Far from Robbo’s finest display. He struggled to contain the pace and trickery of Gnabry from a defensive point of view, although Keita could have provided more assistance in that regard. Going forward, his usual crossing accuracy deserted him at times. Never gives up however and got himself in some good attacking positions, only to either be ignored by his team mates or their pass to him not finding its target. Can play much better though.

Henderson (8) - Really good display from the skipper, especially from a defensive point of view as he spotted and snuffed out danger on multiple occasions, with well timed tackles and interceptions. Even some of his forward passes were finding their target, including one sumptuous ball over the top to Salah, who unfortunately couldn’t convert. Hendo has been in good form in recent weeks, here’s hoping his fitness and form remains the same for the remainder of the season. Man of the match for me.

Keita (6.5) - Some may think I’m being a tad harsh on Keita here as he produced another much improved display, particularly in the first half but faded badly in the second. He’s starting to show some good stuff these days but often spoils it by immediately doing something rubbish. An example yesterday was of him winning the ball, carrying it forward well but then failing to get the ball to Robbo who was in an excellent position, with what should have been a straightforward ball. In fact, I lose count of how often Keita just passes the ball straight to the opposition. His tracking back is absolutely non-existent as well. Needs to work harder in that respect. Growing signs of improvement however, from our most expensive midfielder of all time. A lot more is expected though, in the coming months and years.

Wijnaldum (6) - After a brilliant attacking display against Bournemouth, it was once again a far more reserved Gini against Bayern. I do think he brings much more balance and control to our midfield compared to when he’s not playing but I thought he gave Thiago too long on the ball yesterday and didn’t offer nearly enough going forward. Gini can be a frustrating player as he can be so good but too often produces average displays like last night’s performance. Capable of much more.

Salah (5) - Possibly the worst passer of a football The Champions League has ever seen. If he played for anyone else it would actually be funny how bad his passing is. But he doesn’t play for anyone else, he plays for us, therefore it’s not funny. Really poor last night I thought, was barely involved and when he was, he made a mess of it. After running riot against Bournemouth, it was really disappointing to see him revert back to being utterly bereft of quality and technique. Salah is a bit of a one trick pony and when there’s no space for him to run in behind and score, he offers very little other than ridiculously bad passing for someone who is supposed to be an elite player. Should have scored with a free header at the back post, or at least hit the target.

Firmino (7.5) - Bobby has played himself back into form in recent weeks and did a really good job of linking the play last night. Tidy footwork and relentless work rate as always. Faded as the game wore on, probably on the back of having just recovered from a virus. Understandably subbed in the second half.

Mane (7) - Mane was bright and was pressing like a demon in the first half. Looked as if he might have had the creative spark we needed and tried a couple of acrobatic overhead kicks. Scored half a point less for missing an absolute sitter from six yards out though, after the ball fell kindly for him.

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Subs:

Milner (6) - Came into the game with usual gusto but found it difficult to really influence as Bayern took the sting out of the closing stages with time wasting tactics. Should be starting over Keita in my opinion but has played a lot of games recently, so I can understand the rotation. I’ll be amazed if he doesn’t start the return leg however.

Origi (5) - Struggled to get involved.

Klopp-watch (7) - I don’t think any of us had any issues with team selection or formation. Personally however, I’d have brought on Shaqiri rather than Origi in the second half and moved Salah up front. Shaq may have had a point to prove facing his old club and Salah was having little joy on the right. On the whole though, I think Klopp got his tactics right.

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Summary:

So a somewhat disappointing evening not to make our home advantage count. Bayern played a very clever game tactically, they were very disciplined defensively and denied our forwards the space they require to be truly successful. We did prevent them from scoring however, which I think could play a massive part on the outcome of this tie.

Now we go to Munich for the return leg in three weeks time and I actually still have us as slight favourites. We’ll have Van Dijk back, so we shouldn’t be as nervous defensively as we seemed to be at times last night. Being the home team, Bayern will have to come out a bit more, which should make them more vulnerable to our counter attacks than they were last night. The biggest plus however is that we don’t need to win to progress. Any kind of score draw will see us through and if we could score first, Bayern will really be up against it. If they score first, it doesn’t change much for us, other than they may then take a more defensive approach.

So, plenty positives to be taken from last night, even without the win. None more so than a team that has been in six of the last seven semi finals, coming to Anfield and effectively playing for a nil-nil. It’s further demonstration of the massive strides forward we’ve taken under Klopp. Let’s hope we can repay him by eliminating his old enemy in their own backyard in three weeks time.

Anyway, another massive fixture this weekend as we take on United at Old Trafford. United are the form team in the Premier League at the minute but their run can’t last forever. Time to put them in their place this weekend. Counting down the days already. Walk on.
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