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Liverpool blunted by Bayern, and vice versa, in first-leg draw

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There was virtually nothing to separate Liverpool and Bayern Munich in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday, and the two sides will head to leg no. 2 (March 13) at the Allianz Arena with everything still to play for.

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0-0 was the final score at Anfield, and neither side will be thrilled with the result, nor will either side be devastated not to have found the back of the net.Control and momentum swung back and forth over the course of 90 minutes; the only thing missing was a goal to well and truly liven things up.

Liverpool, it should be noted, failed to pick up a single point away from home in the group stage, losing all three times on the continent.

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson was called into action with barely 10 minutes on the clock, and perhaps the Brazilian knew nothing about the goal-saving block he made. Serge Gnabry crossed the ball into the box from the right wing, but Joel Matip stepped into the ball’s flight and booted it clear, only back toward his own goal. Fortunately for the Reds, Alisson was no more than two yards away and took the wayward clearance off his chest.

Liverpool’s first golden scoring chance came in the 33rd minute, when Naby Keita‘s shot from the edge of the box was blocked but fell ever so perfectly for an unmarked Sadio Mane 12 yards from goal. With Manuel Neuer all on his own and unable to close down the angles in such a rush, Mane let the six-time reigning Bundesliga champions off the hook by yanking his left-footed shot well wide of the post.

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While the first half was quite open with end-to-end tendencies — particularly for a first leg — the second half was even more so, at least early on. Robert Lewandowski got on the end of a cross Gnabry into the six-yard box, but Fabinho, forced to play center back due to injuries and suspensions, made a brilliant tackle to poke the ball away. Liverpool raced to the other end through Andrew Robertson, who nearly scored an unlikely goal off Neuer’s clearance, but the ball fell to Mohamed Salah who wasn’t able to fire a cross or shot under immense pressure.

Down the other end, barely five minutes later, it was the constantly active and involved Gnabry who went inches high of scoring a stunner into the upper-90. The 23-year-old winger cut inside to and unleashed a blast with his left foot that Alisson was never going to get a hand to, but Georginio Wijnaldum did just enough to harry Gnabry and cause him to lift his shot over the crossbar.

Lovren, Firmino huge doubts for Liverpool v. Bayern Munich

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Liverpool could be seriously shorthanded for their massive UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg against Bayern Munich at Anfield on Tuesday.

[ MORE: PL or UCL priority for LFC? ]

Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino did not take part in Liverpool’s final training session before their game against Bayern to give Jurgen Klopp more selection worries.

It has been reported that Firmino has a virus, while Lovren has been struggling with a hamstring problem and was always going to be a last-minute decision for the clash against the German giants.

Fabinho now looks certain to start alongside Joel Matip in central defense for Liverpool on Tuesday, as Virgil Van Dijk is suspended and Joe Gomez is injured.

As for up top, the likes of Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge could be placed in Firmino’s spot but it is likely Xherdan Shaqiri (if he is fully fit) will come into the team and Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane will switch to a central position in the front three.

Either way, not ideal for Liverpool as they have a huge week with this game against Bayern followed by a massive Premier League game at bitter rivals Manchester United on Sunday.

In terms of Bayern’s injury news, Kingsley Coman has recovered from a knock in Friday’s win at Augsburg but Jerome Boateng is out through illness. Arjen Robben is recovering from injury and did not travel with the squad, while Franck Ribery will arrive in Liverpool separate from the team after becoming a father late on Sunday.

Premier League or UCL more important for Liverpool?

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Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Liverpool’s fans care more about winning the Premier League than the UEFA Champions League this season.

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Ahead of Liverpool’s UCL last 16 first leg tie against Bayern Munich on Anfield on Tuesday, Klopp spoke to the media and was asked if they are prioritizing either of the two competitions they are left in.

“It’s difficult for me to answer the question but for all Liverpool fans it’s the Premier League. That’s clear,” Klopp said. “But for now it’s the Champions League and we have to do our best tomorrow. Thank God we don’t have to decide that right now.”

The more cliched response came from Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson, who was sat alongside Klopp in the press conference.

“If we had to choose? We’d choose both. It’s not about favouring one competition. We’ve got a good enough squad to challenge in more than one,” Henderson said.

Shoot for the stars, Hendo…

It is an intriguing situation for Klopp and Liverpool to ponder heading into the crucial final months of the season. Liverpool have won five European Cups and have reached the final three times in the last 14 years, last winning the tournament in 2005. That is more than a decent record in the UCL.

As for league, well, I think we all know Liverpool last won the Premier League title 29 years ago and despite sitting second behind Manchester City in the table only on goal difference, Klopp’s men have their game in hand this Sunday at Man United.

Klopp’s team selection on Tuesday will go a long way to showing us exactly which competition is more important to him and team this season.

In terms of team news for the visit of Bayern, Klopp revealed that Dejan Lovren will be given the chance to play right up until it is possible he can return from injury. That is key as Virgil Van Dijk will miss Tuesday’s clash through suspension and Joe Gomez is out injured. If Lovren isn’t fit, Fabinho is likely to feature alongside Joel Matip in central defense.

Bundesliga: Wolfsburg, Leipzig, Hoffenheim all bag 3 goals in wins

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RB Leipzig and Wolfsburg both took necessary steps in the fight for European places as they each pulled out Saturday victories in Bundesliga play.

Leipzig, with Tyler Adams in the starting lineup, earned a 3-1 victory on the road at Stuttgart behind a brace from Yussuf Poulsen, while Marcel Sabitzer scored the decisive goal.

Notably for USMNT fans, Adams secured his first Bundesliga assist, feeding Poulsen for his second goal in the 74th minute to give Leipzig the two-goal advantage. Adams lept over right-back Andreas Beck on the flank and charged forward, eventually delivering a delicious ball for Poulsen on the break who, instead of feeding a wide-open Timo Werner right on the doorstep, took it himself under pressure and managed to slot the ball in past a charging Ron-Robert Zieler.

The win kept Leipzig to fourth in the Bundesliga table and drew them to within a point of third-place Borussia Monchengladbach. The victory was also critical given Wolfsburg, right behind them in fifth, also found a win with a 3-0 stomping of Mainz.

Wolfsburg midfielder Max Arnold scored his first goal of the season just four minutes in to put the hosts in front as young Florian Muller was very late to react in goal. They never looked back as Wout Weghorst bagged a penalty in the 69th minute and Robin Knoche finished things off 14 minutes from the final whistle. The win gave the hosts more life in the race for the final Champions League spot, keeping them five points back of Leipzig.

Hoffenheim also rode an early goal to a 3-0 win, topping Hannover at home to remain in the race for a European position. Brazilian youngster Joelinton was the man to put the hosts in front early on, scoring just four minutes in on a breakaway with a shot through the legs of a charging Michael Esser. Ishak Belfodil doubled the lead in the 14th minute, and Kerem Demirbay left no doubt with a late cherry on top. The win put Hoffenheim in seventh, level on 33 points with Eintracht Frankfurt above them and Bayer Leverkusen below them.

Hertha Berlin slumped to a 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen thanks to a 96th minute Claudio Pizarro goal to make him the Bundesliga’s oldest-ever goalscorer. Schalke and Freiburg both fell to 10 men as the two played to a 0-0 draw.

Oxlade-Chamberlain returns to Liverpool training

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The long road to recovery is almost over for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

That sentence will be music to the ears of Liverpool fans.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, 25, suffered a serious knee injury in the UEFA Champions League semifinal win against Roma last April and has been out for almost 10 months.

But the Reds revealed that the Ox took part in the first part of a team training session on Tuesday during their warm weather training camp in Marbella, Spain.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rhian Brewster, Ben Woodburn and Nat Phillips all took part in the session but James Milner, Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum did not take part.

Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez remained back in Liverpool with the former a big doubt for the upcoming game against Bayern Munich with a hamstring injury. That is not great news with Virgil Van Dijk suspended for the first leg versus Bayern on Feb. 19 at Anfield, thus meaning Joel Matip is Klopp’s only fit center back right now.

“The boys had to do a bit of core work, passing and the rondos and it’s nice [they could be involved],” Klopp said. “These things Ox can do, and Rhian can do, and Ben can do and Nat Phillips could do most of them. That’s all good. This afternoon they will have to do their own stuff again and hopefully we can integrate them step by step.”

The initial timeline for Ox’s return stated that he would miss the entire 2018-19 campaign. However, if he can return for the final few games of this campaign it would provide Liverpool with a huge boost in their battle for the title and a deep run in the UEFA Champions League.

The photo gallery below is well worth a flick through, as Klopp’s side went on a bike ride and the German coach looks to be lifting the spirits as his side have slipped off of top spot in recent weeks.

With Bayern and Manchester United in their next two games, Liverpool know a pivotal moment has arrived in their season.