Liverpool v Bayern Tuesday 20:00, BT Sport 2 Match Odds: Liverpool2.10, Bayern 3.70, The Draw 3.80.
Bayern Munich have an outstanding record in this competition over the last decade, but they're arguably in their weakest state for quite some time. Niko Kovac has struggled to give the side a clear tactical identity, and with a couple of key absences ahead of this trip to Anfield, Liverpool start as favourites.
Wing battles could prove crucial
This game could be decided down the flanks. For so long defined by the wide combination of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, Bayern will start this contest with neither. Robben is out injured while Ribery travelled late after the birth of his child, while Thomas Muller is suspended and James Rodriguez set to be on the bench.
Therefore, Bayern are likely to start with Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry out wide; they are excellent wingers on their day, boasting a turn of speed and a trick. But Liverpool's full-back pairing of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson should be capable of holding firm, and dominating the battles out wide.
Those two will also be crucial in an attacking sense. Bayern are likely to drop into a deep and narrow shape without possession, leaving plenty of space on either side. Alexander-Arnold and Robertson have proved excellent at switching play to one another with long diagonal passes, and that might be crucial in unlocking Bayern here.
4-3-3 for Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp is likely to use his 4-3-3 rather than the more attack-minded 4-2-3-1 here, which means Mohamed Salah probably returning to the right flank, with Sadio Mane on the left. Those two will engage in battle with David Alaba and Rafinha, a fine full-back pairing who will nevertheless be somewhat nervous about dealing Liverpool's flying wide players. Salah is likely to drift inside, and could be a serious threat in behind Mats Hummels, who isn't the most mobile centre-back around.
Bayern's chief goalscoring threat will come from Robert Lewandowski, who hit a sensational six goals in the group phase and will lead the line solo here. With Virgil van Dijk suspended after his red card against Napoli, Joe Gomez still out injured and Dejan Lovrendoubtful, it seems that Fabinho will drop into the back to play alongside Joel Matip.
While Fabinho has played there on occasion and looked comfortable enough, playing against arguably European football's best penalty box striker is a huge ask for a player more accustomed to playing in midfield or at right-back. Liverpool must keep a high defensive line, with Alisson sweeping behind.
High-tempo midfield battle
In midfield, Klopp will field three workmanlike players and hope to enforce an early spell of pressure. Jordan Henderson should play the holding role, with Gini Wijnaldum to his right and the revitalised Naby Keita to the left. Keita could be crucial in a fast-tempo start, while Wijnaldum has been making good off-the-ball runs. James Milner is another option.
They'll be up against a Bayern trio probably comprised of Thiago Alcantara sitting deep, with the mobile Joshua Kimmich to the right and Leon Goretzka to the left. Goretzka has been in good goalscoring form recently with four in his last five Bundesliga games, and must be watched carefully here.
Roberto Firmino should lead the line for Liverpool, up against Hummels and Niklas Süle, although he missed training on Monday with a virus. If he starts, he'll play in right-of-centre position, dragging Hummels up the pitch and allowing Salah to run in behind. If he's out, Daniel Sturridge is an option, but Klopp might move Salah upfront and bring in Xherdan Shaqiri.
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer started in the 3-2 win over Augsburg despite recent injury problems. He hasn't been in particularly good form, however, and isn't quite the force of old.
Liverpool are rightly favourites, but 2.10 seems somewhat short to me. I'll back the draw at 3.80 - I think Liverpool could be happy enough with a 0-0 or 1-1, and be confident their counter-attacking will prove decisive in the second leg.
The Betfair Trader's View - Alan Thompson
These two sides have plenty of European pedigree behind them with five Champions League (European Cup) wins each. Liverpool last won the trophy in 2005 and were beaten finalists last year against Real Madrid while Bayern have knocked out in the semi-final stage in four of the last five years.
The Reds had to rely on their home form to get through a tough group; PSG went down 3-2, Red Star 4-0 and Napoli lost 1-0 when they visited Anfield. They have only lost once at home in all competitions this season (2-1 Chelsea). If they are to have any chance of progressing in the competition they will have to take a lead to the Allianz Arena.
Bayern’s route to this stage was somewhat easier than their rivals as they cruised through their group, finishing unbeaten against Ajax, Benfica and AEK Athens. Since their last Champions League game, they’ve have won eight and drawn one of their nine matches. Most recently they came from behind twice to win 3-2 at Augsburg on Friday evening.
However, Liverpool’s success at home could be the deciding factor. In the knockout stages last season, they beat Man City 3-0 and put five past Roma (5-2) en route to the final and it could be another memorable evening at Anfield. I will be backing the home side at 2.10 to take a valuable lead to Germany.
Michael: Back the Draw between Liverpool v Bayern @ 3.80