Liverpool FC were superb in their 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the Audi Cup on Tuesday night, here’s what Jack Hallows noted.
Well that was pretty bloody awesome, wasn’t it?
I was confident that we could get a win over Bayern but I never expected us to do it quite that convincingly. The Reds weren’t just the better team, they comfortably dominated the fixture in a way that might’ve even surprised Jürgen Klopp who, before the game, reiterated how seriously his players needed to be prepared to take the occasion.
There were a couple of notable stand out points in my opinion, so without further ado, let’s get into them.
Method to the madness
When Liverpool are playing well, they press well and this match was the perfect example.
There are times when the Reds get frustrated and the gegenpress does admittedly fall apart with the players resembling headless chickens rather than red arrows. This was not the case against Bayern Munich.
The forwards were intelligent in picking their moments and the Reds, for the most part, allowed Bayern’s defence to have the ball under little pressure, preferring to strike as soon as the midfielders received it.
Tolisso, Thiago and Renato Sanches are amongst some of Europe’s finest central midfielders but none of them could cope with being crowded out in the way that Liverpool managed.
As soon as one got on the ball, Firmino would drop in while Coutinho and Can pushed up, boxing the pair in and forcing them to either rush their pass or look wide for an out. The only issue with that was that Sadio Mané and Mo Salah were both sitting ready to cut the passing lanes and waiting for their moment to pounce.
Henderson meanwhile stuck to James Rodriguez like glue, negating his presence entirely and allowing Matip and Lovren to focus on pocketing Lewandowski, a job they did with remarkable ease in the end. This truly was a gegenpressing display of the highest quality.
Counter press becomes counter attack
If the counter pressing was impressive – ha, get it? – the Reds’ counter attacks were sublime. All three goals saw Liverpool’s attackers hit Bayern’s defence rapidly on the break, beating their high line with ease.
Firmino’s middle of the park win and through ball to set Mané on his way for the first goal was typical Klopp style while Sturridge’s classy finish for the Reds’ third was a perfect way to cap off a slick counter attacking move.
The German giants had no answer for the plethora of pace the Reds now possess up front and if they have the ability to decimate a backline that experienced on the big stage, imagine the devastation they can cause against lesser seasoned opponents.
‘Masalah’ wreak havoc
There was no shortage of contenders for man of the match at the Allianz Arena on Liverpool’s side with Firmino, Alexander-Arnold, Coutinho, Moreno and Matip all scoring highly in our player ratings segment but our deadly duo was on another planet throughout.
The pace, creativity, finishing ability and movement of Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah was just too much for Bayern’s defence to cope with and it wouldn’t surprise me if Rafinha is having nightmares about Mané for the next few weeks.
Both were unplayable at times, getting themselves on the score sheet while Mané, in particular, was at the centre of nearly all of Liverpool’s best attacking play during the opening 45 minutes before being substituted at half time.
Guess that answers the question of whether he’s able to play on the left-hand side or not.
Has Moreno redeemed himself?
Quite simply, probably not.
One fantastic performance – in pre-season no less – does not make up for years of mediocrity. However, with many claiming Liverpool are in need of another winger, could the Spaniard stay at the club and simply undergo a change in role?
Moreno impressed at both ends of the pitch against the Bavarians but it was going forward that he truly excelled. His assist for Salah’s goal wasn’t even the best part of his attacking performance as time and again, the left-back sauntered forward at pace, overlapping intelligently and skinning Rafinha whenever he needed to.
Mané x Moreno x Salah pic.twitter.com/ljA4hulebE
— Liverpool Gifs (@lfcgifz) August 1, 2017
He got his assist, almost got on the scoresheet with a well-taken effort from a set piece and produced probably the ball of the game with an early cross for Salah that the Egyptian probably could’ve done better with.
If this was Moreno’s swan song, at least he’ll go out on a high but it might not be the worst idea Klopp giving him a go further up the field.
Makeshift back four impress
While one could argue that Liverpool’s attack succeeded so consistently because of the absence of Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng, no such excuses can be made about the Reds’ solidity at the back.
With only Lovren and Matip regular mainstays last season, one would be forgiven for looking at the team sheet in trepidation. Lining up against Muller and Ribery were 18-year old Trent Alexander-Arnold and live-wire grenade Alberto Moreno.
By the end of the game, however, both were being hailed as among the standout performers – and rightly so. Moreno, in particular, had an absolute blinder of a game, while ‘TAA’ dealt superbly with the threat of Franck Ribery and produced a performance of impressive maturity.
The pair kept Bayern’s wingers quiet and the hard work done by Liverpool’s wingers to pin back Bayern’s full backs meant they had very little width and were often forced to cross from central positions, making it tough for striker Robert Lewandowski to really do anything meaningful with the hopeful balls slung his way.
A clean sheet against Bayern Munich is never anything to scoff at and to do it with a back four that would’ve been seen as considerably under strength before kick off makes it all the more impressive.