Liverpool reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League by beating Bayern Munich 3-1 at the Allianz Arena in the Round of 16 second leg tie last night. Sadio Mane’s brace and a goal from Virgil van Dijk gave Liverpool a historic win in Germany. The Reds took the lead in the 26th minute through Manne when he fired into the open goal after rounding off Manuel Neuer, who came out off his line.
Joel Matip’s own-goal in the 39th brought Bayern back into the encounter. Van Dijk’s 69th-minute goal restored Liverpool’s advantage before Mane scored his second of the night and took Liverpool to the quarter-finals of the continental competition.
The match brought an end to a pathetic away run for the Reds, who had lost all their Champions League group-stage away fixtures this season. With heavyweights Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain already out of the competition, Liverpool have a great chance of going deep into the competition for the second season running.
Here are the three reasons why Liverpool came out on top in Germany.
#1. Sadio Mane’s brilliant run
Last season it was Mohamed Salah, who fired Liverpool to the Champions League final. But it seems Mane has taken the charge this term and is delivering on all fronts. Mane, who has scored 8 goals in his last 9 appearances, looked most likely to score against Bayern.
For the first goal, he controlled a long pass from Van Dijk and then rounded off Neuer to slot home into the open goal. Then he scored his 19th goal in all competitions this season in the second half when he headed an easy cross to give Liverpool a historic win. Mane’s form will be crucial to Liverpool’s hope of winning the Champions League for the first time since 2005. The two-hour wait for the first goal in the Round of 16
#2. The flexible midfield
Klopp can literally pick any three midfielders and Liverpool’s playing style remains the same. Such is the manner in which he has imposed his style on this football club. Last night was the same. It can be said that Klopp doesn’t know his best midfield but that is working well for the Reds as all players are faring well when called upon.
Gini Wijnaldum, Adam Lallana, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Fabinho and Naby Keita are different types of players but they have all taken to Klopp’s philosophy of high-intensity football and they also fight for their place in the team, thereby keeping a healthy competition in the squad. Last night, Henderson, Milner, and Wijnaldum were successful in not allowing Thiago and Javi Martinez to dictate play. Fabinho, who came on for the injured Henderson grew into the game and was pretty good in the second half. Klopp would be in a dilemma as to which players should he field in the upcoming matches.
#3. Virgil Van Dijk delivers at both ends
When Liverpool paid £75 million for the Dutchman in January 2018, it looked like a very big amount and many thought that just like many other high profile signings, Van Djik will succumb to the pressure of his mammoth price-tag. But he is constantly delivering at both ends of the pitch which has given Klopp the flexibility to rotate the other players around Van Dijk with ease. Anyone can play alongside the former Southampton man, and the nature of the play remains the same, such is the game-reading ability of the Dutchman.
Joel Matip, who looked like an average defender last year, is proving to be a good partner for Van Dijk. The Netherland international’s ability to score from set pieces has given Liverpool a great scoring option when things are not working for them. The fact that Roberto Firmino and Salah are not banging in the goals like last season is not impacting Liverpool as Van Djik has taken the scoring responsibilities too.