Have you been suffering withdrawal symptoms following the lack of Premier League action this weekend? Well, there is no need to go cold turkey, better to ease yourself back into the action ready for this Friday and what better way to do so than with a real humdinger of a match between Liverpool and German champions Bayern Munich at Anfield tomorrow night.
With both sides embroiled in battles to win their respective domestic leagues some onlookers may question whether this game is more a distraction but the truth is that clubs with the stature of Liverpool and Bayern will be expected to progress to the later stages of the Champions League and potentially add to the 10 titles (5 apiece) they share between them.
For their part, Bayern are still looking to make up ground following a poor start to the season but their form following the winter break in the Bundesliga has been impressive with 5 wins in 6 matches scoring 17 goals in the process. They cruised through qualification with only Ajax able to take points from their fixtures with the German giants. What we know they aren't short of is quality and experience. Having been so dominant in the Bundesliga for so long the side is littered with league winners and to add to that many of their stalwarts also tasted success in the 2013 Champions League final as well as the 2014 World Cup. Bayern's slump at the beginning of the season is perhaps symptomatic of the overall dip in German football that ultimately led to the national team's catastrophic performance at this summer's World Cup. With Dortmund having been on the receiving end of a 3-0 beating at Spurs last week, a lot now rests with Germany's most successful ever club to restore a bit of footballing pride.
Liverpool, by comparison, have struggled to really find their grove since the turn of the year, losing to league rivals City, exiting the cup against Wolves and then coughing up points against the likes of Leicester and West Ham. I made a comment the other week on Eoghan's blog that perhaps this is just the kind of fixture that Liverpool need to get their mojo back. One advantage they have had is a suitable 10-day rest in which to recover, refocus and prepare for the challenges to come. The atmosphere at Anfield has appeared a little more anxious than excited in recent weeks and I'm sure that the Liverpool faithful would appreciate an early goal in this game to help build the sort of atmosphere that we are used to seeing on big nights at this famous stadium. The good news for Klopp's men is that Bayern have been giving away early goals of late including in the 1st minute against Ausburg on Friday as well as conceding in the 3rd minute against Hertha Berlin earlier in the month.
Liverpool are once again left a little short at the back with VVD serving a suspension and Dejan Lovren struggling with an injury. That may lead to Fabinho being drafted in to play centre-back once more a position and role he has performed for Liverpool and Monaco before that, however, with Bayern's pace and movement in attack it is hardly ideal. One piece of good news for Liverpool is the likely return of Trent Alexander-Arnold who seems likly to return at right back following a knee injury.
Bayern are also without several key players for this leg of the tie. Thomas Muller was sent off against Ajax for a horror tackle that nearly took Nicolas Tagliafico's head off in the final group game
Old Boys Ribery and Robben are not available and former Man City defender (I use the word in the loosest possible way) is also injured.
Liverpool look likely to deploy their usuall 4-3-3 formation while Bayern generally favour a 4-2-3-1 shape. Perhaps the biggest selection question for the visitors will be whether they include the more defensive minded Javi Martinez as a midfield anchor in order to protect a fragile looking defence.
There are a few mouth watering clashes for the game tomorrow including
Four flying full-backs
Assuming that Alexander-Arnold plays then this match will play host to 4 of the best full-backs in world football. On the opposite flank for Liverpool is Andrew Robertson who has created 8 goal scoring opportunities in the Premier League this year more than any other full-back baring Lucas Digne of Everton. For Bayern, Austrian international David Alaba will be looking to provide width down the left while Joshua Kimmich poses a serious threat down the right flank. The German international has a club-high 13 assists this season and nullifying his threat going forward while simultaneously trying to expose his defensive weaknesses will be crucial for Liverpool.
Matip v Lewandowski
With VVD unavailable Liverpool will be looking to Matip to put in a big performance against a man he should know fairly well. Matip used to line-up for former club Schalke against Lewandowski's previous employers Dortmund in the Revierderby between the 2 dominant clubs in the Ruhr region of Germany. The winner of this battle tomorrow night could go a long way to determining the direction of this tie.
If recent form is anything to go by then we should expect some goals in this game.
Over 2.5 goals is trading @1.61 on Betscorum
I've just added a little bit of liquidity to the exchange for both teams to score so if you get in quick you take those odds @1.588 which is better than any other bookie is currently offering
While I often find that Liverpool are one of the most over backed sides on Betscorum I think their odds of @2.233 represent good value for this match
As usual, we will be giving away 10 x 5SCR risk-free bets on the outcome of this game (1 X 2 lines only). To claim your free bet simply comment 'free bet' below the blog.
You can drop a picture of your bet via the betscorum discord channel here
Join us tomorrow night from about 7pm GMT for live blog (kick off 8pm GMT)