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Feb 19, 2019 at 8pm UK
Liverpool
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BayernBayern Munich
 
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Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich

:Headline: Combined XI: Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich:
Ahead of the Champions League last-16 tie between Liverpool and Bayern Munich, Sports Mole selects the strongest XI using players from both sides.
Sports Mole

One of European football's heavyweight clubs will exit the Champions League at the first knockout-stage hurdle as former winners Liverpool and Bayern Munich meet in the last 16.

The Reds had to work hard to make it through a difficult group that also contained Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli, while Bayern were pushed all the way for top spot by Ajax.

Liverpool will consider themselves as favourites to take a lead to Bavaria for the second leg of this standout tie as they are unbeaten in 19 European home matches, though Bayern have avoided defeat in their last eight away matches on the continent and have hit form at just the right time.

Ahead of Tuesday night's match under the Anfield lights, Sports Mole selects the strongest combined XI from both teams using only the players expected to be available for selection.


Out: Thomas Muller (suspended), Joe Gomez (ankle), Virgil van Dijk (suspended), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee)
Doubtful: Xherdan Shaqiri (abdominal), Dejan Lovren (hamstring)

Alisson Becker has more than justified his £67m transfer fee since arriving from Roma last season, memorably producing a world-class save to keep out Napoli late on in December's second-place decider at Anfield. The Brazilian keeper is very much in the same mould as Manuel Neuer, who made sweeper keeping fashionable, and he gets the nod over the Bayern keeper in this side.

There is a tough call to make at both right-back and left-back as both teams boast talented players in that department. Liverpool's success over the past 18 months has been built on the form of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson down the flanks, while the versatile David Alaba has been around for what feels like an eternity, despite being aged just 26, and Joshua Kimmich is living up to the early hype that surrounded him. Alexander-Arnold has struggled for fitness of late, however, so Kimmich is selected on the right, and Robertson is used on the opposite flank thanks to his combined eight assists in the Premier League and Champions League this term.

Liverpool will be without Van Dijk and Gomez on Tuesday due to suspension and injury respectively, and there are also doubts over the fitness of Lovren, so Joel Matip is the Reds' only fit centre-back. That makes this a pretty straightforward decision in the heart of defence, with Matts Hummels and Niklas Sule, while not always at their best this season, starting a combined 32 league matches for Bayern in 2018-19.

Using a 4-3-3 system seems an obvious choice for this hybrid side as it gets the best out of the front three - more on those a little later - and there are plenty of players to choose from. Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson and James Milner have all done a good job for Liverpool in that area this season, as have the likes of Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara for Bayern, but it is Georginio Wijnaldum and Leon Goretzka who are used in this particular side, starting either side of the talented Fabinho, who has grown into his anchoring role at Anfield.

Robert Lewandowski simply has to be selected, as he has once again enjoyed a prolific campaign up top for the German champions, including in the Champions League as he leads the goalscoring charts with eight goals. That unfortunately means no room for Roberto Firmino through the middle, though Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are preferred to James Rodriguez, Kingsley Coman, Serge Gnabry and the suspended Muller either side of the Polish striker.

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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City18115231131838
2Leicester CityLeicester19122535211438
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd18114334241037
4Liverpool1897237211634
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs1896333171633
6Everton1710252821732
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham199552722532
8Chelsea1985633231029
9Southampton188552621529
10Arsenal198382319427
11Aston Villa1682629181126
12Leeds UnitedLeeds187293034-423
13Crystal Palace196582233-1123
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves196492129-822
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle185491830-1219
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton193882229-717
17Burnley17449922-1316
18Fulham172691425-1112
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom1925121543-2811
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd1912161032-225
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City18115231131838
2Leicester CityLeicester19122535211438
3Manchester UnitedMan Utd18114334241037
4Liverpool1897237211634
5Tottenham HotspurSpurs1896333171633
6Everton1710252821732
7West Ham UnitedWest Ham199552722532
8Chelsea1985633231029
9Southampton188552621529
10Arsenal198382319427
11Aston Villa1682629181126
12Leeds UnitedLeeds187293034-423
13Crystal Palace196582233-1123
14Wolverhampton WanderersWolves196492129-822
15Newcastle UnitedNewcastle185491830-1219
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton193882229-717
17Burnley17449922-1316
18Fulham172691425-1112
19West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom1925121543-2811
20Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd1912161032-225
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