Save this on your DVR for the Henderson haters
What a game by the captain! He was all over the place, making crucial interceptions and tackles to stop Bayern attacks while distributing the ball at a fast pace and accuracy to help us getting into scoring areas. Many will still watch that game and not see that he was clearly the man of the match for Liverpool. Henderson might not make a great Youtube video of highlights or have the stats useful in a game of FIFA 19 but his performance today showed why he is the captain for Klopp. Henderson was key to the successful midfield protecting the makeshift defensive line behind yet I still saw everyone raving about Keita and his dribbling skills while ignoring how many potential Bayern attacks Henderson stopped before they got dangerous. Henderson critics always accuse him of only passing laterally or behind but fail to see how he is the fastest in switching the field via these lateral passes and knows the importance of keeping possession at times and would rather recycle the ball rather than force a pass and lose possession.
So hopefully there is someone out there who can make a video clip of crucial Henderson moments in this game. Might be a tad long of a clip but it will be useful to send to fans who refuse to see what he brings to the team. Maybe Klopp and Southgate know something afterall… Who knew!!!? People who appreciated what Henderson brings to the team did, that is for sure.
A scoreless draw can be exciting as well
The common criticism of the sport especially in the USA is the lack of scoring in football and the chance of draws in a game as a final result. This is why there are some consolation prizes in American sports to increase scoring such as Field Goals for a team who could not actually score but got close enough, or constant adjustments to the game where defending is pretty much not allowed anymore in games like football and basketball to enable more scoring. This game had both of the ingredients which make most Americans get heartburn from the game of football in terms of lack of score and ending in a tie.
This game also showed how a goalless draw can be extremely exciting to watch. Not only as a fan of one of the teams, but mostly as a fan of the sport. The game had everything except goals. Great defending with at times poor finishing resulted in no goals being scored but it was an exciting game played at high levels in terms of energy and was extremely physical. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved some scoring from the team in red. When the game was over and opinions of how the result should be viewed by the different teams vary but I think we all agree that it was an exciting game of football.
Robertson struggled to keep up with Gnabry
This was one of the few games where I saw Robertson constantly back paddle in fear of overcommitting. Gnabry seemed to have his number when going at him, perhaps sensing the fear from Robertson. I would expect us to make some adjustments to get him more help or defend that area differently similar to how we ended the game where Milner was protecting the left wing, enabling Robertson to push forward more and get into crossing positions. Robertson did great going forward and the threat of his push alongside Mane kept Kimmich, who is now banned for the return game, defend more than he would like to and not be able to pose a threat offensively.
Alisson has to play smarter
I do not think anyone can debate how crucial Alisson has been to our defensive performance this year. His presence, leadership in organizing as well as reflexes have kept us in games and resulted in several clean sheets. His contribution to our counter attacking style is often overlooked. There are countless moments where a ball put into play swiftly or an accurate long pass from his feet have resulted in successful counter attacks that resulted in Liverpool goals. His footwork and passing is exceptional and definitely one of his strengths. He does at times though take unnecessary risks. Possession is important in modern football and this is why several teams take chances by playing the ball from the back, opening themselves to the risk of losing the ball very close to their own goal. I think over time, Alisson will get better in doing the risk/reward analysis in his head and at times clear the ball instead of forcing a pass or putting his teammates in a tough spot. I know Neuer was doing the same thing on the other side but it really helped our cause in many moments didn’t it, so why give the same chances to the opposition? I do not believe in the “take the good with the bad” approach. It is all about decision making and knowing when the risk is too high for the reward which is an area Alisson has to improve in.
Who got the better part of the deal with this score?
This is a tricky one. Was this score good for Bayern. If Liverpool played the first game in Germany and came home with this score, I think we would be satisfied and some might even be pleased with taking our chances to win a game at Anfield. Our away performances in the Champions League have been extremely poor this season which will also give Bayern good cause to be happy with this score. Their approach to this game in terms of trying to slow down the play and even in the last second, bypassing a chance to put the ball in our box to play the ball back to finish off the game shows that they were content with going home with this score line from the very beginning.
There is another side to this story though; one that should give Reds fans a more positive outlook.
We will have VVD ,our best defender, in the next game while they will be missing Kimmich. Missing Kimmich will also affect how they can push from that wing and help Gnabry. We are built for the counter game and with Bayern looking to be more attack minded in Germany, we will get the spaces behind that Mane and Salah thrive on. Getting an away goal in Germany is not too far-fetched and that will mean that they will have to score at least two to go through. Especially if we get that goal first, it will rattle Bayern, making them more desperate, which in turn will create even more counter attack opportunities for the Reds.
Winning this game with no away goals conceded would be ideal. I still do not see this as a bad result though and even if it is biased; still see this as a 50-50 match up between the two teams . I believe that we will get an away goal in Germany and it might just be enough to take us to the quarter finals.