Liverpool has no intention of sacrificing Champions League progress

Liverpool has no intention of sacrificing Champions League progress to boost their chances of winning the Premier League title and will do their best to win both competitions this season, Alisson says.

The Merseyside club, who face Bayern Munich in the Champions League later on Wednesday, is also in the race for the Premier League title, leading some pundits to suggest they should prioritize domestic glory over European success.

Alisson’s teammate Mohamed Salah said earlier this week that he was willing to put his own Champions League ambitions on the back-burner to help his team win the Premier League.
It is rare that two opposing managers find themselves in complete agreement. But Jurgen Klopp and Niko Kovac were content to shake hands, exchange niceties and go their separate ways a fortnight ago. The former had secured a result that was “not perfect, but good enough”, while the latter’s glass was “half full, half empty”.

Hindsight has been even kinder on a first-leg result that always had positive connotations for both teams. Bayern Munich remains only the second visiting side – after Manchester City – to keep a clean sheet at Anfield this season, while the Bundesliga champions have scored in 24 of their last 25 games. A Liverpool team with Fabinho and Joel Matip at the heart of their defense are the exception to that rule.

Virgil van Dijk will return for the trip to Germany, while Mats Hummels has recovered fully from illness to reprise a role he filled so diligently on Merseyside. The result could be decided not necessarily by who has the most effective attack, but by which of those two supreme center-halves truly excels.

It is a new challenge for Liverpool, who never had to chase a second-leg result in their run to the Champions League final last season. They led by five, three and three goals after the first legs of their knock-out ties in 2017/18, drawing, winning and losing the second legs respectively. It could go either way.

They have also not won away in the competition since beating Manchester City last April. That, combined with Bayern’s irrepressible form, makes the hosts favorites, but both teams enter the Allianz Arena with the reason for cautious optimism.

It makes this perhaps the most intriguing game of the Champions League knockout rounds so far. The only other last-16 tie that ended in a first-leg draw was Barcelona against Lyon, and the Spaniards will be overwhelming favorites at home on Wednesday. The other matches saw either decisive first-leg victories, unexpected and unpredictable second-leg results, or both.

But this is a game that has always been finely poised, balanced on a knife-edge between the Bundesliga leaders and the team second in the Premier League. It could take a single moment of Franck Ribery inspiration or Mohamed Salah genius to disturb the delicate equilibrium.

Therein lies the beauty of this tie. It was genuinely refreshing when it was made, pitting together two of Europe’s most enduring teams who – despite their respective successes – had only met seven times, and not in 18 years. It is even more invigorating with the promise of at least 90 more evenly-matched minutes.