Liverpool got, by far, the toughest draw they could have for the Round of 16. They didn’t manage to score in the first leg at Anfield despite outplaying Bayern Munich significantly. And during the group stages they had struggled massively on the road.
Despite that on paper knowing a win or score draw would see them through might have looked to give them a clear path to advancement, there was a lot going against the Reds on Wednesday night. Their performance quickly pushed any doubts aside.
“I think to perform like we did, especially after our away results in the group stages, was very important,” said Virgil van Dijk after a match that him score the winning goal—and where he was key to holding Bayern, at home, to just two shots on target.
Across two legs, Liverpool outplayed the Bundesliga’s top side. They outplayed them at Anfield and at the Allianz Arena. And while Bayern, the Bundesliga’s top side, set up as though in fear of the Reds in both legs, Liverpool played as their manager asked.
They were brave, respecting the quality of their opponent but not intimidated by it and, at the same time, confident in their own ability—in their own status as one of the best sides in Europe. That will only give them added belief, whoever they face next.
“Be brave when we have the ball, make sure everyone wants the ball, and when we defend, defend together,” Van Dijk added of how Liverpool approached the match. “Be brave when we are defending as well—and especially the second half we did very well.
“We knew it was going to be very tough. At home they showed us a lot of respect with the way they played because that’s not the way they play. We knew they would attack a little bit more [at home] and we would have more spaces to play and we used it.”