Bayern Munich Should Lick Their Lips At Liverpool Defensive Crisis Ahead Of Champions League Clash
The good ship Liverpool may be far from capsizing at the moment but a winless start to the year has seen Manchester City close the gap at the top of the Premier League table and a humiliating knock-out of the FA Cup at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Liverpool however do remain favourites to lift their first league title in almost 30 years. Furthermore, the Reds are still clinging onto their credentials as the most successful English club in European competition and hoping to emulate their reaching the Champions League final in 2018.
Next up however is an extremely tricky encounter with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich in the Last-16 of the premier European competition. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has won just nine of his 29 matches against Bayern Munich, and lost 16, and will unfortunately go into the two-legged clash with a depleted squad, with a likely threadbare defence.
Klopp’s reinforcements on the backline has been a pivotal reason as to their success in the league this year, keeping the most clean sheets in the Premier League this week and conceding the fewest goals, but the awareness of defensive mainstay Virgil Van Dijk missing out on the first leg on Merseyside will again be unwelcome to Red ears.
The Dutch international - and most expensive defender in the world - has to serve a ban after picking up the maximum number of yellow cards in their last group stage fixture against Napoli thanks to a dodgy sliding tackle of Dries Mertens. Promptly booked by referee Damir Skomina, Van Dijk was lucky to have stayed on the pitch.
At the time, Van Dijk was rather apologetic about the challenge which will see the potential PFA Player of the Year fail to walk out onto the pitch at Anfield on February 19th against the Bavarians.
“Unfortunately I touched him, but I would never go in to hurt him or anything like that. I had the ball and obviously the wet pitch you slide through and I touched him but that’s football.
I don’t think it was a bad challenge at all.” (The Independent)
Adding to Klopp’s headache, Van Dijk's usual partner Dejan Lovren was this week taken off six minutes into the FA Cup third-round clash at Molineux with a hamstring injury that is likely to put the Croatian centre-back out for the foreseeable future.
Joe Gomez and Joel Matip also remain out for the time-being with a broken ankle and broken collar bone, respectively.
Defensive replacements may indeed be forthcoming this January with the transfer window reopen, but if not, Liverpool fans face the daunting prospect of seeing their side facing a ravenous Bayern Munich frontline with summer signing Fabinho and youngster Ki-Jana Hoever deputising in the heart of defence, as they did against Wolves to no avail.