Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich: Why away task suits Reds' strengths - Mark Lawrenson

By Mark LawrensonMOTD pundit and former Liverpool defender
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool played out a goalless draw in the first leg of a Champions League knockout tie for only the second time, and the first since the 2004-05 semi-final against Chelsea

Some Liverpool fans might be disappointed with Tuesday's 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich, but I think Reds boss Jurgen Klopp will be quite happy with how the tie is poised.

It is true that Liverpool did not create anything like the kind of chances they would normally do, but that was not because Klopp decided to ditch the attacking football that saw his side blow teams away on their way to last season's final.

The reason this Champions League last-16 first leg was so cagey was not down to the Reds. It was because of Bayern's defensive game plan, and how well they executed it.

I am not expecting their tactics to be dramatically different in the second leg next month but, even if the Bundesliga champions only push on a little more at home, that will suit Liverpool's strength on the counter-attack.

I know Bayern's home record in the Champions League is formidable - they have only suffered three defeats in their past 30 games since the end of 2013, all of them at the hands of Real Madrid, who went on to win the competition on each occasion.

But I would argue that their current team is quite average in comparison to the ones that have made the Allianz Arena such a fortress in the past five years.

When I look through the Bayern side, it does not really frighten me the way it did in the past when the likes of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben were in full flow.

Graphic showing Bayern XI v Liverpool: Neuer; Kimmich, Sule, Hummels, Alaba; Alcantara, Martinez; Gnabry, Rodriguez, Coman; Lewandowski

Klopp's side will be switched on and ready

Bayern are still a good side, though, and they are well-organised and clever. They had clearly done their homework and made very few mistakes defensively at Anfield, and at the back they read the game very well.

But they never really looked like getting an away goal, which means there is a good chance they will have to win the return on 13 March to go through.

If they go on the attack at any time, they have to be very wary of Liverpool's threat on the counter.

It means the tie is left perfectly balanced. I am sure Bayern will believe the scenario suits them, but I would be confident Klopp's side can go there and score, which is another reason why drawing 0-0 is not the worst result in the world.

I also think Liverpool will be much improved from the performances we saw from them on the road in the group stage, when they lost all three of their away games.

In many ways the tournament starts for real in the last 16, because this is such a step up in class, but Klopp's side will be switched on and ready for the task ahead.

No Van Dijk, no problem

Graphic showing Liverpool XI v Bayern: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita; Salah, Firmino, Mane

This game was seen as a test of how Liverpool would cope without the suspended Virgil van Dijk against Robert Lewandowski, and they kept the Poland striker very quiet.

That was largely down to Bayern's tactics of course, because Lewandowski had no service and, especially in the second half, very little support.

I was still impressed by how well the Liverpool defence played, though, and it will have been a big confidence boost that they kept a clean sheet without their best defender.

Even with Bayern sitting back after the break, Liverpool's defence still had to keep their concentration.

I was impressed by every member of their back four but, as a makeshift defender, Fabinho did particularly well.

He might usually be a defensive midfielder but the Brazilian looked comfortable throughout. At times he took a couple of chances with his tackling, but he always got it right.

A point at Old Trafford would be a good result

Snapshot of the top of Premier League table: 1st Man City, 2nd Liverpool, 3rd Tottenham, 4th Man Utd, 5th Arsenal, 6th Chelsea

Fabinho played his part on Tuesday but it is a big boost that Van Dijk will be back for the second leg, not to mention the trip to Old Trafford on Sunday.

The focus is back to the Premier League title race at the weekend, and what a fixture that is for Liverpool against a resurgent Manchester United.

United beat Chelsea in the FA Cup on Monday and played very well. The focus afterwards was on Blues boss Maurizio Sarri, and what he got wrong, but United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer negotiated that tie brilliantly.

From the way they have been playing under Solskjaer, I don't think there is much chance of United sitting back like Bayern did.

This will undoubtedly be one of Liverpool's more difficult league games between now and the end of the season.

They have to deal with the history of the whole Manchester United-Liverpool rivalry, and everything that goes with it, as well as United's recent revival. The atmosphere at Old Trafford will be white-hot.

What is a good result for Liverpool? Well, I think a draw is good enough. It would put them back in top spot for a start.

To come away with anything, they will have to keep their heads.

I know from playing in that fixture myself that the tackles will be flying in, so discipline is vital. No-one can afford to make a stupid lunge at someone early on because they will get sent off for it.

So it is a test of Liverpool's temperament, but they have done pretty well on that score all season - including against Bayern.

It would have been easy for them to pour forward to try to break Bayern down in the second half, but they kept their shape and produced a disciplined and mature performance. I am hoping for more of the same against United.

Mark Lawrenson was speaking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan.

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