HOW do you deal with pressure?
How do you take the expectation and make something of it?
Liverpool didn’t have all the answers tonight, but at what is ostensibly half time in this Champions League fixture, the question is very much set. Pressure is what Bayern Munich have decided to invite. Let’s see what happens next. But our lads will do for me.
From the beginning, Liverpool are warmed up for the game. Anfield is freezing and rainy, but the pressure brings its own heat. When the game kicks off, Liverpool are at home and on balance have the advantage. Yet both teams are missing talismanic players – van Dijk and Muller – and it would be a surprise if there were no nerves.
So, while things start slowly you can – slowly but surely – feel the heat being turned up in the first half. That pressure is coming on. You can sense it.
The Reds bounce into the first half, with early shots for Salah and a positive show for the first 20 minutes culminating in a brave overhead attempt from Keita. Bayern responded to pressure well, though, and despite Liverpool holding the cards, the German side made crucial tackles and were far from intimidated.
A freekick doesn’t go our way, but still, Liverpool have seven attempts on goal in the first half hour, and a great run from Keita marks the 30th minute.
You can see the point of him. You can see the skill of him. It’s all there and he gets himself in this side, he equips himself marvellously. And moments later a beautiful connection from Firmino to Keita to Mane gives us the thrill of expectation only to end in a miskicked attempt that goes wide.
Liverpool tried to confuse and destabilise, crafting patterns across the pitch and picking up pace the whole time. Mane makes an attempt at an overhead kick around the 40th minute, and it felt like something, something might come before the break. Bayern feel vulnerable as the clock ticks and Liverpool have that learned air of a side used to turning the screw.
Suddenly, Liverpool come again, and again, and Mo Salah dribbles and crosses back, and he and Firmino look like spiders criss-crossing a web across the 18-yard box, never showing for a second which way they will move next.
But for all Liverpool’s possession in the latter part of the first half Bayern do not give up. They still look capable of stopping the red breakout. They counter. They win corners. They force Allison to make the save. They are a good side playing with the benefit of being the underdog tonight. Only tonight they get that luxury.
Special mention must go to Jordan Henderson. One moment he is brilliant in defensive action and then seconds later he is upfront. It’s some performance under the circumstances. He ran the show, the outstanding performer on the pitch.
Beyond that it is so good to see Trent back in his place lifting his crosses effortlessly forward. Throughout the game he looks pleased to be back. He pushes progressively further forward, making himself more of an attacker, and though ultimately futile in this match, he is on the road back to his best. We can forgive him the missed pass or two.
Liverpool go in at half time on good form but without a goal. It is frustrating. The pressure gets to us all but the avoidance of pressure is part of it. We all have to cope with it. You have to suck it up.
After the break Bayern see Lewandowski break out of the control of the Liverpool midfield but not be able to build onto the centre backs.
Their threat grows but the pace drops. Bayern’s control of Liverpool increases. The temperature falls through the floor and as the clock hits the 65th minute, Liverpool are struggling to get Bayern under the cosh again.
The timing between the front three misfires and good opportunities are left wanting for the sake of a misplaced pass, and while the Origi change makes sense on paper, it plays out poorly. Divock is nowhere near the game, evoking the difference between Champions and Europa League before our eyes.
By the midway point of the second half, Coman and Gnabry are wide, getting back to stop the Liverpool attack much more than threatening the goal. Thiago tackles well and is holding up the Liverpool press, collecting the ball from The Reds at several faulty moments but this is as much about us as it is them.
Freekick at the 70th minute. We are all hoping for a set piece, but the relief of a goal doesn’t come. It just never comes and by that point it doesn’t feel likely. The switch of Milner for Keita feels like the right choice, but ultimately, this was not the night when a magical corner was to be struck and headed into the back of net. Milner was eager but unable to bring a reward.
In the end, while Liverpool don’t give up, nor do they crack under pressure, they also don’t find a way to let the light in. Mane forces a save with a brave header at 85, and the resulting corner is equally as frustrating. While Gini has nothing to be apologetic for, in the final quarter, he goes off the boil and mishits and mispasses. It is a rare shakiness from him.
Tense. This is so tense. Our expectations are high. The pressure is mounting and problems are coming not as single spies but in whole battalions. Passes that would have been easy become hard. Shots that might have fallen lucky, fall flat. Do we manage the situation or are we kept at arm’s length?
No answer until the second leg. Munich get this as well as anyone; their history shows that. But we get it too. The ground knew what it was watching. The tie will be decided in Munich but know this: Liverpool will show courage. They will show nous. They will be smart. Munich may outplay Liverpool but they won’t outthink us.
Liverpool need a goal. They may need a brace. But they will be stronger at the back next time out.
All the best, Bayern. Can’t wait. United next. The pressure has started.
I, for one, am backing our lads. They are the only game in town. They will always do for me.
SUBSCRIBE to TAW Player to listen to our immediate post-match reaction…
“I’m not worried about this at all. We can turn them over in Munich.” 👏
🗣 Subscribe to #TAWPlayer and listen to our immediate post-match reaction show 👉 https://t.co/XZAK9veWt7 pic.twitter.com/emM9vYHeHW
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) February 19, 2019
Pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda Photo
Like The Anfield Wrap on Facebook
Get Paul Senior off the post match FFS what a miserable sod. It’s 0-0 We know what we have to do. You can’t win every time.
Positives for me
– 0-0 might be good in the long run. Bayern setup to stifle and succeeded.
– Clean sheet
– Henderson doing a better impression of a skipper (great ball to Salah)
– Very few shots on goal considering who we were up against
– Excellent defensive work by Fabinho and Matip
– Anfield roar
– TAA was average
– Front 3 were wasteful and at times selfish (Mane pass to Robertson would have been nice)
– Midfield still cannot help break deadlocks. Most of the top teams have these types in their midfield. How is it we never seem to do these days?
– Alisson clowning around in the beginning. High stakes games need no unforced errors.
– Nobody knows how to shoot from outside the box.
– Klopp’s super sub Origi and over reliance on the front three.
– Missing Shaq??
United game is going to be tough, especially if they decide to not play.
Shaqiri was there and, yet again in a big match, was ignored. There is a theme here….and I thought Keita did as much as anyone to force the game from midfield and created a couple of chances to break the deadlock.
@KM1806 Yes Keita is being given a good run now and I applaud that.
However I do wonder if Shaq’s injury is what Jurgen was more concerned about.
On a wider point, the other day, I listened again to The Pink from after the stuffing away to Spurs last season. Gareth Roberts was basically questioning how this team could possibly be good enough to even reach 4th.
The big positive for me then is looking at the number of European Cups the opposition has won. Then looking at the team they are still able to play, many of whom confirmed last night they are excellent players. Then realising that said team, club and fans are feeling happy today with their night’s work, since this is now LFC’s level.
@Martin That is a nice way to look at it as well.
To me, Bayern gave too much respect to Liverpool by being conservative.
Perhaps it was the manager more than the team that they respected, knowing he had their number a few times before.
At the Allianz will be a different story, but I wonder for which team and their history.
True, mate – could go either way. So if I’m doing what I expect to be doing on Sunday evening – crying into my Guinness – then hopefully someone will remind me of what I’ve posted on here today in a sudden attack of sanity.
@Martin Hahaha…It’s okay, I will be every bit nervy, but for some reason against the mancs I don’t care if I have to go down fighting.
Just don’t care for that lot. :)
The last time we were at the Allianz, it was a late preseason friendly and we had them on toast. Friendly aside, their players have only gotten older while ours have hit their prime. Nothing’s a guarantee, but I feel nothing resembling fear going back to Bavaria.
I am with you on this one Walter. We’ve been shit away from home in the CL this season so far, but I will take this result as I think we will do them at their gaff. When you think we had a makeshift CB pairing and TAA returning from injury and Bobby recovering from a virus then Bayern had a chance. Hopefully by the return we have a strong fit squad to choose from.
They will have to come at us. This will expose them. Let’s see what happens then, especially as I can’t see Robertson having 2 off nights against them.
I came away on the positive side of neutral on this. Paul Senior (and Gibbo at times) can be down after a match and I respect that and appreciate the dour opinion, especially if the others at the table offer something more bright in contrast.
I saw some Marbella rust in the first 30 minutes of this one, when most of the errant passes occurred. Fortunately, our 3 midfielders and 2 center backs played rust free and kept us afloat as the others woke up from their tropical doldrums. Fabinho and Matip were flawless. Maybe it was Bayern’s slower-than-average attack, but they met every challenge. Gini and Henderson were flawless as well, but that’s less newsworthy. Keita was put in a position to succeed and did so. I see his defensive contribution as being a little behind the curve still, which is probably why he played forward positions on set pieces. I remember Ox going through this as well right before it all started to click.
On a knife edge they say, I’d agree. We’ve been shit in Europe away from home for a while so this will certainly need to change.
Great to see Trent back, lost the ball a bit but he offers so much and will be back to speed in no time.
Mane so threatening but should score as should Salah from Henderson sublime ball. I feel it’s a shame but nothing major. They did there best to control and kill the game and are certain my a good team. They will be much more dangerous in Munich.
Just come on to remind everyone what Shanks would say after such situations “There’s only one team who can score an away goal now”.
Need a fox in box.Bench not strong enough, ditch injured Lovren,missed two thirds of the season.
All this talk of our away record in Europe this season is utter nonsense. We were unbelievably complacent in Belgrade.(Not happening again) It was a 90th min gaol that did us in Naples.(Could happen.Its a 50-50) Yes, we LOST to PSG. PSG was clearly the better team on the day.(Bayern is no PSG). But these are the knockouts. We will come out firing. We will turn up in the Allianz Arena for sure. And I see no reason why we should be fearful of Bayern. No, this is not arrogance. I fear a fully fit PSG just as i fear a fully fit Man City. But not Munich.
However, unlike the popular opinion that Bayern will be obliged to come at us in the second leg, I think Bayern will employ the same tactics. They cannot come at us. They simple dont have the firepower to do that.They will know that this one will be a game of fine margins and they will be patient. So, Im not sure how this one is going to play out. But I expect us to be stronger and fitter in 3 weeks time. If that is indeed the case, we will go through.