One of the most anticipated games of the year didn't play out as expected, but still left Bayern Munich with a result they can be happy with. Even without an away goal, it's all to play for in the second leg.
Liverpool 0-0 Bayern Munich
Niko Kovac said before the game that the first leg wouldn't end goalless, but that's exactly what happened at a wet Anfield on Tuesday night. Bayern Munich earned a spirited draw with Liverpool, who had the better chances in a game that saw both sides cancel each out somewhat. Throughout, both sides looked more comfortable in transition than in possession.
After a nervy opening, two chances came within a minute. Mo Salah got a touch on Jordan Henderson's long ball, but not enough to beat Manuel Neuer. Then Joel Matip's clearance bounced off Alisson and clear as Serge Gnabry caused problems down the right. Joshua Kimmich picked up a yellow card in the first half, which sees him suspended for the second leg, as Bayern did all they could to stop Liverpool's front three.
"We made life hard for ourselves. Ten or 12 times, the final ball was missing," Jürgen Klopp said afterwards. That wasn't the case when Saido Mane found himself with the ball at his feet in the box in the first half, but he screwed his shot wide.
In the second half, chances were even harder to come by as both sides struggled to find the final ball or breakdown the opposition.
Throughout the game, Bayern's defensive display shone with Javi Martinez, Thiago and Mats Hummels the standouts. Liverpool couldn't find a way through, and when they did Neuer was there. Five minutes frmo time, Mane sent a diving header towards the near post via a slightly deflection off Niklas Süle's thigh, but Neuer made a brilliant save low to his right to deny the forward.
Despite being in mint green kits, there was nothing pasty about Bayern's performance as Niko Kovac and his charges stopped one of Europe's most impressive attacks to set up a thrilling second leg in Munich on March 13.
As it happened:
90+3' That looks like that's it. Bayern playing keep ball...
90+1' Gnabry makes way - an impressive performance from him - for Rafinha, who will start next week at right back for the suspended Kimmich. Liverpool keep pushing, but Martinez has been in the way. Well played sir.
88' Another set-piece, again for Liverpool, another disappointing delivery. It's wet, cold and late on in an intense game, but still... Got to do better than that.
86' SAVE! Mane gets to a diving header from a seemingly impossible angle, it deflects off Süle's leg and Neuer makes a brilliant save down to his near post. Really impressive that, especially given the time of the game. Renato Sanches coming on for James, even though Javi Martinez is struggling with cramp.
83' CHANCE! Bayern clear another cross, but this one falls to a Liverpool player on the edge of the box. Fortunately for Bayern though, that player is Joel Matip and the former Schalke man gets far too excited and slices it horribly. Won't want to see that again.
81' Origi is trying to cause some problems in the air, but can't. Ribery is on for Coman. A chance for the experienced Frenchman to show his teammate and the opposition what a game-changer is.
76' Keita comes off, Milner on. Not a bad night for the former Bundesliga man - he had some moments. Firmino also makes way, with Divock Origi coming on. The Wolfsburg legend about to strike a winner in the rain - which is coming down harder now. Much more appropriate for a European game in England in February.
74' Liverpool looking more dangerous now. Salah breaks into the box, and looks to have a chance on goal but gets mixed up with Firmino. Looks like changes are coming for Klopp's side.
68' Gnabry is back to get a chance-denying touch on a deep cross that had fallen for Mane. The game is on a knife-edge.
62' Coman takes a heavy touch, one that normally leaves the opposition defense in his dust but this one invites Alexander-Arnold to dribble into the box but his final pass isn't quite on the money and Hummels can clear. Just one moment, one combination away from something sparking into life.
58' For all of the question marks about Neuer's form, his ball-playing ability makes such a difference. When the going gets tough playing it out the back, he can hit the 20-yard airborne pass that opens up the play. That, eventually, leads to back-to-back corners for Bayern. Liverpool deal with them though.
55' CHANCE! Keita has two chances to open the space on a break but can't get either right. The second creeps through, and eventually it comes across to Salah but he miscontrols it and the chance is gone. Huge amount of space that Liverpool failed to exploit there. P.S. There was a surge of noise in the stadium just now. Here's why:
53' If Bayern can get past that first line of Liverpool pressing, they look like doing something. Getting past that is not easy though. They do, after a sloppy exchange of possession. Coman gets into space down the left and cuts it back for Lewandowski. It looks like the opener, but Fabinho makes a huge block.
50' Both sides start the second half as they did the first - solving the questions the opposition is asking of them.
46' No changes, Bayern gets us started. Neuer in front of the Kop.
It has been intense and high tempo, but not in the way that was perhaps expected. Both sides have canceled themselves out a bit, and both are struggling to play it out of the back. Gnabry has looked the most dangerous for Bayern, Mane for Liverpool. Neatly balanced. What did you think? Get in touch via any of our social channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram).
44' Again, another superb move from Liverpool. Keita drives forward, play goes wide, neat pass into the box, a little touch off and then Firmino hangs the cross at the back post. It's just beyond Mane. One combination away from a real chance - and that's true of both sides.
42' Matip makes a huge clearance after Gnabry delivers another dangerous cross. Halftime approaching. One last chance before the break? The game feels like it might have one in it.
41' CHANCE! Liverpool turn up the heat! Salah cuts in, sends a back heel back out to the overlapping player which bamboozles Kimmich, and Matip gets to the cross but it's wide. That's how dangerous Liverpool can be, although there hasn't been much of that so far in this half.
39' Kimmich needlessly giving the ball away on the edge of the box. Keita's shot is deflected, Mane gets to it but sends an acrobatic effort wide. All nearly but not quite from both sides.
37' Thiago makes a great interception, Bayern surge forward and Gnabry sends a low drive towards the far post but Alisson is there. Light drizzle coming down. Bayern slowly but surely having a few more ideas going forward.
33' CHANCE! Keita has a chance to shoot from the edge of the box after a neat lay-off, it's blocked by Süle but the ball hits his leg and then his arm. No penalty, but I think it could have been one. Either way, the ball falls to Mane who is not offside and has space and time to score, but can only mishit it, dragging the shot wide.
29' Niko Kovac isn't happy at a decision about a throw-in. This game is so incredibly cagey. Bayern seem happy to sit deep, even though they have few ideas from there. Liverpool are pushing, but not quite in the manner as expected. Leaves a lot of hopeful long balls and an incredible commitment to playing it out the back.
27' Kimmich booked for taking Mane down as he tries to break. That means he's out of the second leg. Not insignificant that.
24' CHANCE! Mane wins a free kick that is nearly a corner. Alexander-Arnold's first ball isn't good, but his second is and Salah has a free header at the back post. The presence of a jumping David Alaba throws him off though, and his header goes wide. A chance nonetheless.
22' Hummels is furious. Martinez and Thiago look too close to them to offer any openings, and again playing it out of the back looks a problem. Long ball over the top and then it's Liverpool's turn to do the same. Not the back-and-forth that was expected.
19' It feels like both teams are a bit cagey, notably at the back. Both keepers have started nervously. Bayern appear to have won over the stadium so far, which is a huge plus.
16' Mane breaks forward after the ball comes to him from the right. He goes for goal as the angle gets smaller, but the pass to Robertson was on. Down the other end, Alisson looks a little nervy and invites Bayern with a poor pass but Coman can only hit the side-netting.
13' CHANCE! Just like that, Bayern are in the game. Gnabry beats Robertson out wide, gets the cross in and Matip tries to clear it but instead it hits Alisson and bounces clear. Don't think anyone knew what was happening there but close. Kimmich has a go afterwards but it's blocked.
12' CHANCE! Liverpool do go first. Jordan Henderson lifts a long ball over the top and it's perfectly placed for Mo Salah, but his connection isn't strong enough and Neuer gets across to save.
10' Gnabry and Coman are making something happen here for Bayern. Patient possession eventually sparks into life when those two wingers get the ball. Alisson flaps at a cross, but Liverpool clear. No sign of that furious start from Liverpool.
6' Interesting start. Liverpool look better without the ball, pressing and pushing as usual. Bayern look overly cautious when they have the ball. Both are looking to capitalize on transitional moments, when the ball is won back. Football in 2019 eh?
4' Crisp passing from both sides so far. Bayern in mint green takes a little getting used to, though. Matip and Mane getting in some big tackles early on. Liverpool's pressing as furious as expected.
1' Liverpool get us underway!
20:57 "You'll Never Walk Alone" rings out around Anfield. It's a big European night, and there's a big European sound from the home crowd, drowning out the classic Champions League tune.
20:54 It's nearly go time in Liverpool. If there were goals for choreos, it looks like the hosts might be 1-0 up.
20:49 Not related to tonight's game, but some concerning news coming out of Turin tonight. Germany international Sami Khedira has been left out of Juventus' squad for their game vs. Atletico Madrid tommorrow due to an irregular heartbeat. We hope it's nothing serious and that Khedira can get back to his family and football as soon as possible.
20:31 Bayern Munich's former chief media officer Markus Hörwick has been speaking ahead of the game about Niko Kovac's mentality. Tonight is such a huge game for him, and it's worth remembering that this, tonight, the Champions League knockouts against Liverpool at Anfield is a first for him. How he handles it will play a huge role. Speaking ahead of the game, Kovac also confirms that although Coman is starting and ready to go, he still feels a little bit of pain. All normal and not worth making too much of it, but worth noting.
20:26 Thomas Müller is unavailable for tonight because of his suspension (which stretches over the second leg as well). "The tension is perhaps a little great, if a little different," he tells Sky before the game about being with the team but not able to play. "It can be spectacular tonight," Müller adds. Everything is pointing towards it being that way.
20:20 Bayern have received 2,621 tickets for tonight, and the breakdown is interesting. 108 for employees, 483 for loyal members, 324 for away season-ticket holders, 270 for Bayern tours, and a ballot for the remaining 1,400 tickets. In that ballot, so great was the interest that for every 100 applications 98 had to be rejected. Basically, that just means whoever is there is very, very lucky.
20:13 In position for us in Liverpool tonight is Matt Pearson. Do give him a follow and keep up to date with the game through his eyes. He won't let you down.
20:01 One more look at that Bayern bench, and it is intriguing that for the club's biggest game of the season there are three teenagers on the sidelines. Alphonso Davies (18), Lars Lukas Mai (18) and Meritan Shabani (19). If any of them wanted to make a name for themselves, tonight would be the night.
19:51 TEAM news! Firmino, as we found out earlier, is fit to start. Naby Keita starts in midfield, and Fabinho in the heart of defense. There are weak points to attack for Bayern, but going forward that is strong.
As for Bayern, Javi Martinez starts (no Leon Goretzka, who drops out of the squad because of a tendon problem in his right ankle) as does James. Otherwise as expected. Franck Ribery, Alphonso Davies and Renato Sanches are on the bench.
Liverpool XI: Alisson - Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Fabinho, Robertson - Wijnaldum, Henderson, Keita - Mane, Salah, Firmino
Bayern Munich XI: Neuer - Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Alaba - Martinez, Thiago - Gnabry, James, Coman - Lewandowski
19:47 Bayern have arrived.
19:40 How time flies? Once on the same side, Klopp will be hoping he can shut down Lewandowski tonight.
19:19 Want some more facts? Here they are. Eleven Germans teams have played at Anfield, none have won. The record stands at 14 defeats and three draws. Ouch. Tonight can be historic for Bayern.
19:15 Bayern are wearing mint green tonight, by the way. Red is obviously the color of both teams, but both can't wear red tonight. Still, I'm not sure whether mint green is the first option Bayern fans would have voted for.
19:10 There are programs and then there are programs. The one from tonight is exceptional, wouldn't you say?
19:05 Team news expected soon, but here are the players that will definitely miss out:
Bayern: Boateng, Müller, Robben, Tolisso
Liverpool: Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, van Dijk
19:01 Quite the record for Liverpool to hold on to tonight.
18:54 Bayern Munich fans are being escorted into the ground now. The tension is rising. This is what it's all about, isn't it?
18:45 Is there a more passionate fan the Bayern man in more scarves than at a pre-game stand? Blimey. What an effort that is.
18:40 No specific starting XI news yet, but this is a huge plus for the home side. Game changing, one might even say.
18:20 Want a flashback? It's the 2001 Super Cup. Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich. It's the last time these two sides met competitively. Liverpool won 3-2 thanks to goals from John Arne Riise (pictured below with Willy Sagnol), Emile Heskey and Michael Owen. Strikes from Hasan Salihamidzic and Carsten Jancker weren't enough for Bayern, who brought Niko Kovac off the bench after the hour mark. It's a funny old game.
18:13 Not going to be easy staying calm with all this excitement out there, not even for reporters. Even if you can't speak German, you can see how tricky it can be to navigate a busy crowd ahead of a big night of European football.
18:02 Is Jürgen Klopp the most famous coach in football? It seems everyone knows everything about him, but do you know where it all began? Here's a look back at how Jürgen Klopp went from average player to top coach. Everyone has an origin story.
17:54 A lot has been said before this one. Xherdan Shaqiri has said Bayern might be the best club in the world, Arjen Robben said Liverpool might be the place he least likes to play. Then there was Joshua Kimmich say how Jürgen Klopp might be well suited to being Germany head coach one day, and then Klopp on Hummels and Lewandowski and how his career wouldn't be the same without them. In fact, it feels like everyone has at least said something. Serge Gnabry has become one of Bayern's most important players of late and when we caught up with him recently he too had his say about his side's chances of progressing. The clip below is a sneak peak, but there is of course more from Gnabry, including talk about the title race and learning from veteran teammates. He's confident, but the 23-year-old - who has a Premier League past with Arsenal don't forget - is also aware of the quality Liverpool possess.
17:35 There are so many key battles tonight. We've taken a look and it makes for some great pre-match reading (we think). For more pre-game content, DW's Matt Pearson wrote this from Liverpool ahead of the game (includes quotes from Jürgen Klopp).
17:30 Good evening! It's finally here. Well, almost anyway. Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich. Klopp vs. Kovac. There's so much to look forward to in this one. We've got you covered, with live updates here and on all our social channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram). Feel free to join the debate and the coverage. We don't know what the final score will be, but we promise it'll be entertaining.