The Warmdown: Anti-climax at Anfield as heavyweight bout between European giants proves underwhelming affair
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 The Warmdown: Anti-climax at Anfield as heavyweight bout between European giants proves underwhelming affair

A night where the hype failed to deliver as last season's runners-up in the competition were held to a goalless draw by the Bundesliga champions.

Joshua Kerr

It wasn't quite to be the epic tussle between two European heavyweights as a stubborn Bayern Munich held out Liverpool to a 0-0 draw with the Bundesliga winners taking back a deserved stalemate as well as a clean sheet to the Allianz Arena in the Champions League.

However, the Reds also were able to nullify and sustain the Bayern attack keeping their well-known predators at bay and denying the visitors with a precious away goal as this clash of titans remains finely poised.

There was a sense of anti-climax when the final whistle ringed around Anfield. One of the most eagerly anticipated showdowns of the knockout phases and a battle of two genuine European heavyweights was concluded with both teams unscathed and without any landing punches of note.

Forgettable yet potentially significant

It was a forgettable affair on Merseyside, but could still prove to be a significant one as Liverpool will hope for better fortune in Bavaria.

Following a 10-day break from competitive action, the Reds appeared disjointed and a team hindered by injuries as Jurgen Klopp's players were unable to unlock their sparkling best.

It was clear from the off that Bayern arrived on Merseyside with a plan to stifle and frustrate Klopp's players and their efforts were executed to perfection.

Whatever problems lie with the German champions domestically, the European giants arrived at Anfield with a wealth of Champions League experience. The visitors used that vast knowledge and continental wisdom as they refused to be knocked off their perch by the stride of the Anfield cauldron.

To their credit, Bayern were defensively astute and dealt with everything Liverpool launched in their path. 

The Reds lacked their usual guile as Klopp was unable to inspire a late cavalry and will have to settle on the fact his team didn't concede against one of Europes best despite a makeshift back-four.

The aces may appear to be in Bayern's corner, but Liverpool should have no reason to fear when they travel to the Allianz Arena on March 13 with Klopp looking to maintain his perfect record in two-legged European ties since the start of his Anfield tenure.

Bayern may have only lost two of their previous 26 home games in the Champions League but such a formidable record shouldn't frighten Liverpool with the Reds not needing to win in the reverse fixture in Bavaria.

Firmly in the balance

A score draw would see Klopp and his team seek safe passage into the quarter-finals of the competition although the dynamic of the second-leg will completely change in three weeks time.

A boost for the Redmen will be the return of the suspended Virgil van Dijk who isn't just Liverpool's defensive talisman but also that calming presence they lacked despite being on home turf. 

Another factor that will hinder on who progresses from the last-16 will be whether Bayern show more attacking innovation and intent on home soil which could leave the Reds with space to exploit on the counter-attack.

Keeping a clean sheet could be the significant factor that decides this battle of European juggernauts with Bayern having only kept one clean sheet in 2019.

Most importantly, Robert Lewandowski - the competitions top scorer this season - barely had a sniff at Anfield with the impenetrable make-shift centre back Fabinho putting in a faultless performance at the back with a number of crucial blocks and tackles.

Jordan Henderson also shone and with the Reds lacking their usual leader in the form of Van Dijk, Liverpool's club captain refused to hide.

It was arguably the skippers best performance of the season as he exuded authority against some of Europe's elite on a night that lacked attacking fluency from either team.

It may have not been the performance that sets Liverpool on a perfect start in their pivotal, season-defining week with Manchester United waiting in the works. 

However, with Van Dijk back in the heart of the defence and Fabinho operating in his usual midfield duties there is no doubt it will be a completely different Liverpool that walks out at Old Trafford come Sunday.

An expectant Anfield drowned out the noise of the Champions League rendition that just never lived up to the hype.

The rousing rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone' forced goosebumps but it proved to be where the night ultimately peaked.

Arguably the highlight of the night belonged to the Bayern supporters. The visiting fans in the Anfield Road End were equally impressive and made a point that all leading clubs, and Uefa, should acknowledge as the travelling support from Germany held up three banners, reading “Away ticket LFC 48£ FCB 55€”, “Th€ gr€€d knows no £imits” and “Twenty is plenty”. 

The stage looked set for Liverpool to fly out of the blocks and feed off the buzz and the energy that Anfield had served up, but it just didn't happen.

However, this is not a result that should be met with doom and gloom. Liverpool still have as much to lose at Bayern at the Allianz and a clean sheet should not be underestimated when the stakes are this high. After all this looks set to be a tie that hinges on the finest of margins.