The great weakness of FC Bayern Munich makes Liverpool a favorite for the Champions League

Keith Costigan is the leading commentator on Fox Sports in the Bundesliga and ideally positioned to assess the threat that Bayern Munich will pose to Liverpool's hopes of winning the Champions League.

Niko Kovac's team visit Anfield for their first leg of their last 16 games on Tuesday evening with the return leg at the Allianz Arena on 13 March.

Liverpool-based ECHO correspondent James Pearce sat down to discuss where the big showdown in the Champions League could be won and lost.

How do you rate the Bayern season so far?

There is apparently a lot of talk about it being a fading force, but they are just two points behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.

Bayern have fought particularly defensively this season. Niko Kovac was successful at Eintracht Frankfurt last year, but played mainly defensively. He seems to be struggling because his team has to be the attacker, and they always seem vulnerable on the counter. The defeat against Gladbach at home was a good example.

Niko Kovac watches Ajax at Johan Cruyff Arena on 11 December 2018 during a press conference ahead of UEFA Champions League Group E play-offs
Niko Kovac has inherited a squad with problems

In fairness to Kovac, he also inherited a squad whose problems were due to the last season. The form of Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels has dropped significantly, so Niklas Sule is number one and Kovac seems to be looking for the right mix in this area.

In addition, Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba are happy to continue and there is definitely room to exploit against them. The Bayern have not yet conceded so many goals at this time, since Louis van Gaal has taken over the responsibility.

Kovac has also not regulated the defensive midfield position. Javi Martinez was very good in that role last year, but Kovac does not seem to like him. He also does not seem to trust James Rodriguez at big games.

To say Bayern is only two points behind the top does not tell the true story of their problems. Keeping in mind the edge they usually have at this time of a season, one can say that the shape has declined considerably.

How do you feel about Jurgen Klopp Liverpool? Is there a favorite?

Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool is the favorite

I think, as Bayern has conceded the goals and how Kovac has prevailed in big games against the group, Liverpool must be the favorites.

I will say I do not expect them to be equally ruthless in their actions against us, and we will likely see that Kimmich and Alaba are more defensive and respond to countermeasures. This is something that trains Kovac much more comfortably.

The performance against Augsburg on Friday evening summed up their season. Sloppy goals will be conceded, but for the most part, enough talented people will have to help them achieve a result.

What weaknesses do you think could uncover Liverpool?

The areas that Liverpool can take advantage of are the flanks when the full-backs go forward. Teams have been trying to attack Hummels as Alaba progresses, and in this area Salah can be really effective.

How about the strengths of Bayern? Where must Liverpool be careful?

Bayern's Mats Hummels, Leon Goretzka, David Alaba, Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski are celebrating their first goal in Augsburg
One to see

Liverpool must pay attention to the Bavarians and their counterattacks. This is a team that has done so well in the past with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry started recently and they are dangerous.

If I'm not mistaken, Gnabry Trent Alexander-Arnold has caused some problems in the Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim at the start of last season.

In Robert Lewandowski they have a trailblazer who does not have much to do with link-up games, but he's a clinical finisher. He can not get a seat.

Leon Goretzka has also been in good shape lately – he has timed his runs in the area and is a threat to the goal in these situations.

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Liverpool vs Bayern Munich

After Thomas Muller was banned and Robben injured, Coman hobbled after two goals against Augsburg late. Scan results have since alleviated concerns about ankle damage. How important is Coman for her?

If Coman is missing, that would be a serious problem for Bayern. Already without the emotional heartbeat of her team, losing her biggest counterattack option would be another big setback for her. You need Coman out there.

If he is not prepared to bring in Alphonso Davies, he is fast as lightning, but Kovac plays James on the right and Gnabry on the left, Goretzka, Thiago, who hits them in the middle, and Javi Martinez as his three in midfield.

It's not the lineup Kovac wants, but there's still enough quality to make things difficult.

What is the key fight for the two legs for you?

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates the second goal during the Audi Cup 2017 between Bayern Muenchen and Liverpool FC at the Allianz Arena on 1 August 2017

It will be these vast areas. If Liverpool Kimmich and Alaba can stand on their backs, they take two of the biggest attack threats Bayern.

How do you think FC Bayern in Anfield with the first leg?

The Kop in a European night

I think they will be careful, but that's not something they do as a team. It will be interesting to see if they are effective with these tactics. It will definitely help to document the defense problems of the last four if they sit in front of the defense and protect them.

After all, what do you say for the tie?

Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp ahead of the Premier League game at Anfield, Liverpool.
Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp ahead of the Premier League game at Anfield, Liverpool.

I think Liverpool will go through, but it is important that the Bayern team is not underestimated because of their problems this season.

Even a 1-0 victory at Anfield would be a positive result for Liverpool, as a Bayern team that follows the draw, the team of Jürgen Klopp in the return leg of the Allianz Arena next month to exploit.

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