Liverpool legend John Barnes has claimed the Reds are favourites in their Champions League last 16 clash with Bayern Munich.
Jurgen Klopp’s side take on the Bavarian giants in the first leg of their tie on Tuesday evening, and Barnes has claimed that the latter have suffered from the consequences of an ageing side.
With the likes of influential stars Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery now in their thirties, the former England international revealed that the Reds should have too much energy and dynamism for the Bundesliga side.
Speaking exclusively for bookmaker comparison platform BonusCodeBets.co.uk, he said: “This is the first time that I would make Liverpool favourites, if you had to play Bayern in the last 4/5 years compared to playing them now, they don’t seem to have the same drive and determination that they had previously.
“Liverpool have too much pace for them, the game will be won on strength, hunger and determination of which Liverpool have in abundance.
Liverpool’s frontline stats:
Salah: 36 Apps, 30 Goals, 10 Assists
Firmino: 37 Apps, 21 Goals,11 Assists
Mane: 29 Apps, 12 Goals, 7 Assists
— Samue (@VintageSalah) February 14, 2018
“Bayern aren’t as dominant in the Bundesliga and have a number of old players in their squad. Of course, they are still a fantastic team, but they don’t seem to have the same dynamism as we’ve seen in the past with Robben and Ribery.
“Bayern, Real Madrid and Barcelona in the last five or six years have been the three dominant teams in Europe – but if you look at what they’re doing in their leagues now, teams are much more able to compete with them and get results. It’s a good time for Liverpool to be playing Bayern.”
However, despite claiming Klopp’s men would start as favourites for the game, Barnes raised some concerns about the impact Virgil van Dijk’s absence could have on the rest of the side, but backed his former club to cope without the Dutchman.
He added: “It’s a one-off opportunity here with Virgil van Dijk suspended and Liverpool will need other players to step up. Lovren proved he was a good player this summer in getting to the final of the World Cup, but Van Dijk playing so well has really impacted his game-time.
“Should Van Dijk have been out of action for 5-7 games, the result would be evident on the team. But the players on Tuesday should be able to cope without him, hopefully for Liverpool’s sake his absence isn’t too much of an issue. They are playing against a good side, so we’d much rather have him than not, but hopefully it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
“With players like Lewandowski and Robben, they’ve got some fantastic players with lots of quality in all areas of the field, and on a one-off opportunity they can make something out of nothing.”
Despite the Reds being on course for their first Premier League triumph in over two decades, Barnes insisted this season would not be considered a failure if they failed to pick up any trophies.
Barnes revealed: “The season would not at all been a failure if Liverpool weren’t to win anything. I would rather finish second in the league, 5 or 6 points off the top and not win the champions league, rather than win the champions league, but be 20 points off the top. That shows you the team you are in terms of consistency, week in, week out.
“Winning the cups, but being 20 or so points off the top, shows an inconsistent team. You can win the Champions League by luck when you look at teams like Porto that have won in the past.
Jurgen Klopp knows Liverpool fans would prefer the Premier League title over the Champions League, but says their focus remains solely on tomorrow’s clash with Bayern Munich.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) February 18, 2019
“If you’re 4/5 points off the top, you’re consistently challenging each week, you’re performing in a good manner. It’s always about how close you can get to the top of the league for me showing the team you are domestically.”