Liverpool went to the Allianz Arena and came away with a 3-1 win over Bayern Munich on Wednesday. The performance wasn’t perfect but it did show how the Reds are built for the Champions League.
Jurgen Klopp set his side out to press when they could and drop when they should. It worked perfectly, too, and Liverpool got goals from both strategies.
But this wasn’t a flawless performance. This wasn’t akin to the 3-0 win over Manchester City last season or the home game against AS Roma.
Liverpool won 3-1 but Bayern weren’t up against eleven standouts. Roberto Firmino offered little going forward, Andy Robertson made a couple of mistakes at the back, Mo Salah had a very mixed night – just to name a few.
But that’s a sign of strength. This was the average Liverpool, playing as you’d expect them to, and that’s a side that can threaten in the Champions League.
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The natural work rate throughout the Liverpool team lends itself to games like this. They simply don’t let anyone have it their own way, even if things aren’t perfect with the ball. Similarly, the front three is just a natural threat.
Two of the three weren’t at their best but Liverpool still got plenty of chances away at Bayern. They were a threat in behind whenever there was space, and they were a threat in transition. That’s down to the system, the pressing, and the work rate of everyone involved.
A lot has been made of the lack of a creative midfielder – some fans were very worried about that once the lineup was released. Liverpool didn’t need one, though, as their chances came through their gameplan, not an individual.
This wasn’t the same as the Leicester City, West Ham United, Everton, or Manchester United draws. Those teams sat deep and asked Liverpool to try and break them down – a difficult task without a creative player.
But in the Champions League, teams want to play their own way and 9 times out of ten, that’s something Liverpool can thrive on. It means they can exploit the transitions, whatever way Klopp sets them up to.
Bayern admitted beforehand that Klopp’s strategy would define how their own team played. Would the Reds press high to win the ball or sit back to draw Bayern out? In the end, it turned out not to matter – Liverpool naturally threatened either way.
And that’s all the proof needed that this is a side built for Champions League success. Klopp has a team to take on anyone.