Liverpool progressed to the quarterfinal of the UEFA Champions League 2018-19 with a dominant 3-1 win at the home of the defending German champions Bayern Munich.
Here are the five major talking points from the high-profile clash.
5) Liverpool’s disastrous away form comes to an end in emphatic fashion
Since beating Manchester City at the Etihad in last season’s Champions League quarterfinal, Liverpool lost all five of their subsequent Champions League games away from home and this includes their defeat to Real Madrid in the final.
This season, Liverpool won all three of their home games in the group stage but lost all three away fixtures including the one against the group’s minnows Red Star Belgrade.
Liverpool travelled to Germany for the second leg with a poor away record but they ended that run with a dominant display over the Bundesliga giants. The Bavarian club could only muster two shots on goal and the only goal they scored also came from a Liverpool player.
4) A gloomy European campaign for German clubs
Bayern’s defeat to Liverpool means there will not be a German club in the quarterfinal of the Champions League for the first time since the 2005/06 season. It’s also the first time since the 2010/11 season that Bayern have failed to progress to the last eight.
Interestingly, the three German clubs in the Round of 16; Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke; were all knocked out by English clubs and by a comfortable margin in the end.
It is also the first time since the 2008/09 season that all four English clubs have made it to the last eight and on that occasion, Barcelona went on to lift the trophy.
3) The £75 million bargain delivers at both ends
Superlatives fail to describe just how good Virgil van Dijk has been for Liverpool this season. If Liverpool end their trophy drought this season, then the Dutchman has to be in contention for all major individual honours.
Van Dijk was his usual composed yet imperious best at the back against Bayern and kept this season’s top scorer, Robert Lewandowski, at bay along with Joel Matip who might we add, was equally good defensively.
The world’s most expensive defender also made a telling contribution at the other end against Bayern. He assisted Sadio Mane’s opening goal with an excellent ball over the top from Liverpool’s half and then scored Liverpool’s second to put the tie beyond the home side.
2) A big summer on the cards for Bayern Munich
Since the 2010/11 season in the Champions League, Bayern have reached the final twice, reached the semifinal four times and the quarter-final once. Bayern’s failure to reach the last eight this time around highlighted significant weaknesses in the current squad. To put it bluntly – this is not the Bayern of old.
Bayern are parting ways with both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in the summer after many years and they will need to find replacements. They presently have Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies as wide options but at the moment, none of these players are as good as Robben or Ribery were in their prime. Also, Coman is injury prone and Davies is yet to be tested in Europe.
Bayern also needs to add cover for their defence. Jerome Boateng has lost his place in the starting XI to Niklas Sule after some poor performances and like Germany, maybe Bayern also need to think about the future and move past Boateng and Hummels. They also need cover for Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba as the veteran Raphina cannot do the job anymore.
In addition to the abovementioned necessities, they could also do with a new midfielder and an alternative to Robert Lewandowski. It won’t be possible for them to make so many changes in one summer but they will have to address some of these issues at least.
1) Main Man-e
Mohamed Salah has now gone six games without a goal for Liverpool but there isn’t any need for the Liverpool fans to panic yet as Sadio Mane has stepped up and delivered in recent weeks.
Mane scored his 18th and 19th goals of the season against Bayern Munich to carry Liverpool into the quarterfinal. The Senegalese is proving to be a man for the big occasions for Liverpool and he even scored for the Reds in last season’s Champions League final.
The former Southampton man has scored 16 Premier League goals this season. The tally is his best in a Premier League season and there are still eight games to go. Also, his 16 goals are the most by any player in the Premier League from open play this season and he is just two short of the league’s top scorer Sergio Aguero’s tally.
The brace against Bayern was Mane’s third brace in his last four games and he has also scored ten goals in his last ten games. He is in the form of his life and Liverpool fans will be hoping he can carry on in such manner till the end of the season.