Liverpool have only faced Bayern Munich once in European competition since 1981. As they prepare to meet again in the Champions League on Tuesday, James Walker-Roberts looks at whether this is a good year to be facing the German club… “Mia San Mia”. Bayern Munich’s club motto translates as “we are who we are”. But who are Bayern Munich at the moment? They have won the Bundesliga for the last six seasons in a row and have reached at least the semi-finals of the Champions League in five of those seasons. However, ahead of their Champions League last-16 clash with Liverpool, they appear to be a club in transition.
Their current league position tells some of the story. They are two points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund, having played a game more. At this stage of all of the last six seasons they have been at least five points clear at the top. In three of those seasons they were 19, 18 and 15 points clear. Dortmund have been excellent, losing only one game so far, but Bayern have already lost as many games (4) as they did in the 2017/18 season. In the two previous seasons they lost only twice in the league. They have also conceded 34 goals in all competitions, their highest total at this stage of the season since 2010/11. And the Bundesliga side have absentees ahead of facing Liverpool.
Thomas Muller is suspended for both legs, Arjen Robben has not played since November, Franck Ribery has recently returned from injury, and Corentin Tolisso is out. Kingsley Coman, who head coach Niko Kovac says provides Bayern with a “very different dynamic”, is also an injury doubt after scoring twice in a 3-2 win over struggling Augsburg on Friday. Then there’s the defence. Bayern have not kept a clean sheet in 2019 and Bayer Leverkusen recently beat them 3-1, with their high pressing and quick tempo causing problems for Kovac’s side. Centre-back Mats Hummels’ level has dropped and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer only recently returned from a hand injury and has not been at his best this season. Of 13 goalkeepers to have played at least 20 Bundesliga games this season, Neuer has the lowest save percentage. Among that group of 13, WhoScored give Neuer their lowest average rating for the season.