Sunday 20 October 2019

Graeme Souness admits a big warning sign is flashing for Liverpool ahead of Bayern Munich showdown

Virgil van Dijk is suspended for Bayern first leg
Virgil van Dijk is suspended for Bayern first leg
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Graeme Souness believes a big warning sign is flashing for Liverpool ahead of their Champions League last-16 clash against Bayern Munich at Anfield.

Souness admits the absence of the suspended Virgil van Dijk has the potential to derail Liverpool's hopes of reaching a second successive Champions League final against opponents he believes have been dismissed too hastily.

"If you pick any players that they wouldn't want to be without, it's Virgil van Dijk and we wait to see how they cope in this game against Bayern," says Souness, who is part of the Virgin Media Sport panel for Liverpool v Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.

"You look at the front three of (Mohamed) Salah, (Sadio) Mane and (Roberto) Firmino and while they are so important to this team, they are replaceable for one or two games.

"Van Dijk is different and we don't know how they will react when he is not there. He has been such an important player for them since he joined, along with the goalkeeper Alisson this season.

"Liverpool should be on the front foot as they tend to be when they play at Anfield, but Van Dijk's absence is a problem they will need to get around.

"So I see them winning tonight, but you can also envisage Bayern Munich scoring a goal with a player like Robert Lewandowski in their line-up. Anfield is a tough place for anyone to get a result now and I expect Liverpool to take a lead with them to Munich.

"The big difference with this Liverpool now compared to a couple of years ago is they can grind out results when they are not at their best or when key players are out and they have to do that again tonight, even though I expect to see a strong Bayern Munich team at Anfield.

"I was asked who I fancied for the Champions League this year before a ball had been kicked in the competition and I went for Bayern Munich. It was a real stab in the dark, but I looked at their performances against Real Madrid in the semi-final last year and they were very close to beating the side that went on to win the final.

"They are a massive club and they have players who are used to winning things, but they have not had a great year in the Bundesliga and people have written them off for this game against Liverpool. That's a dangerous game to play because top players tend to thrive at this stage of the Champions League."

Souness went on to insist Liverpool are ready to start winning trophies under Jurgen Klopp's guidance, as he played down the significance of winning silverware this season.

"It's only a matter of time before they win something," he added. "This Liverpool team is good enough to win the big prizes now, but they are up against a very good team in Manchester City and they also need a fair wind and a bit of luck to get this team over the line for the first time.

"They have a wonderfully strong squad of players and they play a brand of football that everyone is enjoying. They will win something, whether it is this season or next season."

Virgin Media Sport will host the UEFA Champions League matches on Wednesdays and the UEFA Europa League on Thursdays. Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League matches will also be Free to Air on Virgin Media One TV which will also broadcast the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League finals.

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