Liverpoool are sweating on the fitness of Roberto Firmino after the Brazilian striker missed training at Melwood on Monday after being sidelined by a virus. Liverpool remain hopeful that he will recover in time to lead the line in Tuesday night’s first leg. However, Daniel Sturridge is on standby to start if Firmino isn’t deemed available for selection once he’s been assessed by club medical staff on Tuesday morning.
Dejan Lovren also missed training which rules him out of the visit of Bayern. The Croatian centre-back hasn’t played since January 7 due to a hamstring injury and has lost his battle to be fit for the showdown with the Bundesliga champions. As a result Fabinho is set to deputise at centre-back alongside Joel Matip as Virgil van Dijk serves a one-match ban. Youngsters Corey Whelan and Ki-Jana Hoever also took part in Monday’s session.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp knows Liverpool fans would prefer the Premier League title over the Champions League, but he says the club do not need to decide yet. Bayern Munich, Bundesliga champions for the last six years, will be the visitors at Anfield on Tuesday night for the first leg of their last-16 tie. It comes just five days before Klopp’s side play Manchester United at Old Trafford looking to maintain their title challenge, with Liverpool level on points with Manchester City and a game in hand.
‘If you could tell me we would get the Premier League title this year I would roll over and let Bayern tickle my tummy’, was one Liverpool fan’s response put to Klopp in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday, but he needed no reminding. “For all Liverpool fans it’s the Premier League, that’s clear,” said Klopp. “But now we play Champions League and you all expect we do our best. Thank God we don’t have to make the decision today. We do not know today or tomorrow.”
Last year, Liverpool reached the Champions League final with a series of dominant displays in the home legs of their knockout ties in the competition, including a 3-0 win over Manchester City at Anfield in the quarter-final. Klopp says he has experienced the Liverpool fans push his side from “100 to 120, 130 or 140 per cent” on multiple occasions. “There’s a lot of power in that,” he added.
The German, who confirmed he had “two phone calls” with Bayern over their manager’s job in 2008, insists he is “very much” in love with Liverpool but that they have not achieved anything yet. “The best thing we did all together is that we are a competitor, that’s not enough,” said Klopp, still searching for his first trophy at the club having lost three major finals.
“It’s a very important step in this very important league and very important Champions League. Being not only part of the competition, but people thinking we can beat Bayern that’s a big thing. We have to prove that.
“The story so far is a nice one but not finished yet.”