Champions League: Klopp says Liverpool ‘ready for anyone’
Sadio Mane stars as Reds beat Bayern to reach quarter-finals
Bayern Munich 1 Liverpool 3 (Liverpool win 3-1 on aggregate)
Liverpool beat Bayern Munich last night to join Tottenham and the two Manchester clubs in Friday’s draw for the Champions League quarter-finals.
It’s the first time since 2009 that four Premier League clubs are in the hat for the last eight of Europe’s showpiece competition - evidence that English football, including the national team, is enjoying a renaissance.
By contrast, Bayern Munich, like Real Madrid, have reached the end of the road with their current squad, as have their national teams.
Bayern fielded a starting XI with six players the wrong side of 30, and the club is in desperate need of an overhaul.
The defeat means that for the first time since 2011, Bayern won’t feature in the Champions League quarter-finals. It’s also the first season since 2006 that no German club has reached the last eight.
The fact that all three Bundesliga clubs were beaten in the last 16 by English sides has not gone unnoticed in Germany.
The decline of this Bayern vintage is symbolised by their goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, once so rock solid between the sticks but these days an increasing liability.
He was at fault for Liverpool’s first goal when he rushed from his area to try to dispossess Sadio Mane. But he was left flailing at thin air as Mane’s quick feet created the space for a deft chip into the corner of the Bayern net.
“The first goal, I have to watch it back probably 500 times - it’s outstanding what Mane was doing,” purred Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who has now seen Mane score ten times in his last ten matches.
Bring it on
The Germans levelled thanks to an own goal by Joel Matip, but a second-half header from Virgil van Dijk and another goal from Mane eased Liverpool into the last eight. As well as their three English rivals, the Reds will be facing Juventus, Porto, Ajax and Barcelona, with the Spanish club securing a place in the next round with a 5-1 thrashing of Lyon.
“Whoever we get as an opponent we will take,” said Klopp, when asked who he fancied meeting in the quarter-final.
“The boys love the competition, they really dig in in these moments. We’ve laid down a marker that LFC is back on the top level of European football.”
The only downside for Liverpool was a booking to defender Andy Robertson, who will miss the first leg of the quarter-final as a result.
Jordan Henderson also hobbled down the tunnel in the first half, but his twisted ankle is expected to be better in time for the quarter-final first leg, on 9-10 April.
Reactions to the Reds’ victory in Bayern
Virgil Van Dijk: “We got the job done and we’re into the last eight. It is very important and it feels amazing to score.”
Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski: “We didn’t risk much, we were playing at home it was our game but that’s why I think Liverpool beat us. We were playing too deep, we didn’t take risks.”
James Milner on Mane: “Sadio is on fire. The first goal was ridiculous really, how he has finished it off – the calmness and the finish.”
German broadcaster Deutsche Wells: “Manuel Neuer hands Liverpool victory and highlights his terminal decline.”
Jurgen Klopp: “In the moments we did play football we immediately destroyed the organisation of Bayern.”