It’s less than a week to go until Liverpool kick off the Round of 16 in the Champions League against Bayern Munich, and befitting a match pairing two of Europe’s top three sides as per 538, both are feeling confident despite injury and suspension issues.
For both there is respect for a dangerous opponent but also a belief that, if they play their game, they can be the one that advances to the quarter finals. And for Bayern, they know part of playing their best game means stopping Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah.
“Salah is immense,” was left back David Alaba’s response when asked how he’s preparing to try to stop the Liverpool star. “He’s one of the best players in the world, and he’s fast, but I’ve played against other fast players, like [Kylian] Mbappé, for example.
“I know from experience that it’s critical that I look to my strengths. It definitely will not be a simple game but we believe in ourselves because we know our strengths. We’re Bayern Munich—we don’t have to hide from any opponent. We will pull out all the stops.”
Liverpool, though, will be feeling the same way, both thanks to last season’s Champions League exploits and to the fact that so far this season they have run the world’s richest club level in the Premier League. And Salah will be feeling confident, too.
After a slightly slow start to the season following a difficult World Cup and disappointing end to last year’s club campaign that saw him injured in the Champions League final, Salah has rounded back into top form and is again at his dangerous best.
The Egyptian superstar has 17 goals and eight assists in 26 league games, good for a goal involvement every 88 minutes. Add in his three goals in the Champions League group stage games and he’s hit the 20 goal mark with a third of the season still to go.
Alaba, one of the game’s very best fullbacks, will head into the match fully believing he can shut Salah down. Salah, back in top form and in the conversation as one of the world’s best attackers, will head into it believing he can get the better of Alaba.
Both will be justified in thinking as much. Which only seems right, given Liverpool vs. Bayern is the Round of 16’s headlining pairing, with whoever comes out on top likely to be favoured to make it all the way to this year’s final in Madrid.