Liverpool v Ajax, Bayern Munich v Barcelona: Champions League – clockwatch | Champions League

Key events

Meanwhile, Barca are into it in Munich, fashioning a chance for Pedri, who takes a lovely first touch across his man only to drive a shot into Neuer’s legs from 10 yards. That should’ve been 0-1.

Lovely give-and-go from Salah and Alexander-Arnold, who turns in the box to slide into his mate’s path. But again, Ajax crowd Liverpool out.

In Munich, the home side have had the better of the opening exchanges. I’m excited to see, though, once the game settles, if Gavi and Pedri are good enough to dominate against Kimmich and Musiala – I think they are, but Bayern have the edge at full-back and might deploy that to win the midfield numbers game.

Liverpool have started well, Thiago finding Elliott loitering down the right. He crosses to the back post, where Blind does enough, and Tsimikas lamps over the top. On which point, Elliott looks like a very serious player – if not the kind who can allow the kind of full-back play we’ve seen from Alexander-Arnold and Robertson over the last few seasons.

Salah immediately raids down the right, but his low cross is humped away by Bassey. I’ve seen a fair bit of him over the last couple of seasons and he looks a really smart replacement for Lisandro Martínez, quick, strong and intelligent.

“A silence impeccably observed by many but not by everyone,” says Darren Fletcher on BT. For what it’s worth, I didn’t hear much noise, but there are, without doubt, people in Liverpool who feel the city has been let down by official bodies over the decades,

We’re away in Munich, while at Anfield, there’s a minute’s silence.

Marseille police already using tear gas, according to @gouffa83, in an attempt to prevent OM fans & Frankfurt supporters from getting to close to each other. Kick-off is still 2 hours way.

— Get French Football News (@GFFN) September 13, 2022

Breaking | 3 arrests have already been made around the Stade Vélodrome for throwing projectiles at the police, according to @npelletier18. Inside the ground, @gouffa83 reports that riot police are already intervening in the away end.

— Get French Football News (@GFFN) September 13, 2022

Goodness me, the state of Bayern’s bench. I wonder what the plan is for Gravenberch, who’s on the bench – he didn’t sign for that – and also whether Goretzka is no longer considered a big-game starter. I hope not, because he’s a brilliant player and a top man, but perhaps the injuries have taken their toll.

Here come our teams…

“Daniel, you mention Sporting scoring a second time against Spurs as if this is a bad thing?” asks Ian Copestake. “The question intonation signalled by my incorrect use of the question mark for a non-question is entirely deliberate, in case any former students/pedants are itching to ‘av a go.”

Copestake’s upspeak, I call it.

Focusing on Bayern v Barca for a moment, the team Xavi’s sent out tonight tells us plenty about who his first choices are. I’m a little surprised Marcos Alonso plays ahead of Jordi Alba, but otherwise, Gavi, Pedri and Busquets are reunited in midfield – against Plzen, De Jong and Kessie played – and in attack, Raphinha replaces Fati. Last week, the main man was Ousmane Dembele, and I can’t wait to see how he does tonight, against better opposition, but also this season, now he’s focused, injury-free and alongside Lewandowski. the first time I saw him play I thought I’d seen a superstar, and I hope he gets as good as his talent says he should.

“Nails athletes,” says Dan from Walthamstow. “You’ve hit the proverbial on the head. The high press, the full-back-cum-wingers; the Bobby F smoking a cigar; they all work just dandy when there are three high-energy midfielders (Barney had a great description of them I think as a ‘highly committed removal firm’ ) but right now the core of the team just look knackered and drained, like that woman from Bristol who couldn’t believe there was another flipping general election. Looking forward to an early Ajax goal followed by an hour or so of fruitless attacks!”

I also think that Klopp inspired a bunch of very good players to become world beaters. It was amazing to see, but because they don’t quite have the technical ability to fall back on, it might expire sooner than teams tend to because of that. Truth is, the best football this side have played, I think, came three seasons ago.

Rio Ferdinand reckons Alexander-Arnold is good enough to see off the best left-wingers around, but I’m not so sure. He doesn’t have recovery pace nor does he smell danger, which isn’t to say he can’t work, but I think he needs the team to be in proper working order for that.

Klopp tells BT that he’s hoping for a big performance but has to acknowledge the quality of Ajax. He’s hoping for a performance from Thiago and notes the choice he had between three fine centre-forward – I guess Jota has most credit, having been injured, and does, reckons Klopp, combine the qualities of the other two. That sounds a little generous to me, but he’s a very good player, and picking him was not, we’re told a difficult decision. Of Ajax, he says they’re coming from the opposite pole – “they are flying, we are not” – and off he trots.

Full-time: Sporting 2-0 Spurs

Oh man, Sporting have scored again! They lead Spurs 2-0, playing injury-time.


Sporting have taken the lead against Spurs, with just a few minutes left. I’m sure Antonio Conte will see the funny side, but.

Oh, and Inter now lead 2-0 in Plzen.

And that, I think, is really the crux of Klopp’s problematic. He could get away with full-back playmakers when he had three nails athletes in midfield, but now Wijnaldum has left and Henderson is old, that’s no longer possible, and though Thiago offers subtlety that was missing before him – when he’s fit – having him also means they have to play differently – except they don’t.

I do wonder, though, whether Fabinho and “Trent” would’ve survived had Klopp had serious alternatives. Fabinho was just so lax last week, while Alexander-Arnold will, for as long as he plays right-back, be a ludicrous strength against almost everyone, but a serious weaknesses against against anyone good enough to examine his defensive ability, or attack the space in behind him.

Jürgen Klopp makes four changes to the side that collapsed so peculiarly at Napoli: Andy Robertson is injured, so Kostas Tsimikas comes in, while Joe Gomez, James Milner and Roberto Firmino are dropped, replaced by Joel Matip, Thiago and Diogo Jota.

Email! “If Liverpool’s Five Days of Truth are anything like the ‘truth sessions’ that were a well-meaning but squirm-inducing part of undergraduate housemates’ life, then Klopp can look forward to his players displaying all the insight and wisdom that a roomful of callow 18-year-olds can muster, i.e. very little and none, respectively.”

Oi! I was an extremely mature 18-year-old, I’ll have you know.

*Er, I wasn’t.

Tonight’s teams

Group A

Liverpool: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Thiago, Elliott; Salah, Jota, Diaz. Subs: Adrian, Davies, Gomez, Milner, Firmino, Nunez, Carvalho, Arthur, Bajcetic, Phillips.

Ajax: Pasveer; Rensch, Timber, Bassey, Blind; Berghuis, Álvarez, Taylor; Tadic, Kudus, Bergwijn. Subs: Stekelenburg, Gorter, Klaassen, Brobbey, Ocampos, Kaplan, Lucca, Sanchez, Grillitsch, Baas, Regeer, Magallan.

Group B

Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky; Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapié; Aranguiz, Andrich; Hlozek, Demirbay, Hudson-Odoi; Schick. Subs: Bakker, Sampaio Filho, Azmoun, Amiri, Aranguiz, Fosu-Mensah, Frimpong, Lomb, Neutgens.

Atlético Madrid: Grbic; Molina, Felipe, Witsel, Hermoso, Reinildo; Koke, Llorente, Saúl; Joao Félix, Morata. Subs: Kondogbia, De Paul, Griezmann, Santos, Correa, Carrasco, Diez, Gomis, Moreno A, Moreno M, Mestre.


Porto: Diogo Costa, João Mário, Pepe, David Carmo, Zaidu, Otávio, Uribe, Eustáquio, Pepê, Galeno, Evanilson. Subs: Cardoso, Marcano, Foneseca, Ramos, Grujic, Conceicao, loader, Franco, Wendell, Costa, Lopez, Borges.

Club Brugge: Mignolet; Odoi, Mechele, Sylla, Meijer; Nielsen, Vanaken, Onyedika; Skov Olsen, Jutgla, Sowah. Subs: Sobol, Balanta, Larin, Boyata, Nusa, Yaremchuk, Audoor, Lammens, Sandra.

Group C

Bayern Munich: Neuer, Upamecano, Pavard, L. Hernández, Davies; Kimmich, Sabitzer, Musiala; Sané, Mané, Müller. Subs: De Ligt, Gnabry, Goretzka, Choupo-Moting, Ulreich, Gravenberch, Tel, Mazraoui, Stanisic.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Araujo, Christensen, Koundé, Marcos Alonso; Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Pedri; Dembélé, Lewandowski, Raphinha. Subs: Bellerin, Pique, Fati, Torres, Memphis, Alba, Kessie, De Jong, Garcia, Pena, Balde, Tenas.

Group D

Marseille: Pau López; Clauss, Bailly, Balerdi, Kolasinac; Tavares, Veretout, Rongier, Gerson; Payet, Alexis Sanchez. Subs: Ngapandouetnbu, Guendouzi, Suarez, Under, Gueye, Kabore, Blanco, Harit.

Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp; Knauff, Ndicka, Tuta, Jakic; Sow, Hasebe, Gotze, Kamada, Lindstrom; Kolo Muani. Subs: Smolcic, Alidou, Rode, Borre, Alario, Chandler, Ebimbe, Grahl, Ramaj.

Latest scores: in Group C, Inter, away to Viktoria Plzen, lead 1-0, while in Group D, Sporting and Spurs are goalless. Follow that game here with Scott Murray:


“The Champions League group stages are a waste of time and just a way for Uefa and the clubs to harvest more money” is a frequent refrain around this time of year, and rightly so: loads of games to eliminate only half the teams with half of those earning a playoff to enter the Europa League instead, before the richest ones contest the knockouts. Football is the winner!

Well, perhaps not this term. Though the competition still serves the interests of Baron Mammon, its early stages look pretty tasty and tonight should be a belter.

At Anfield, Liverpool, who were lucky to escape with a mere 4-1 battering in Naples last week, take on Ajax, who were brilliant in dismantling Rangers 4-0. Jürgen Klopp talked yesterday of “five days of truth,” during which his players have been forced to confront themselves, and he’ll hope that as encounter with what they think is rock bottom inspires them to compete properly tonight. However, it remains the case that their physical, hyperactive style is exhausting not just just to play against but to play, and Ajax, in great form with Mohammed Kudus on a ridiculous buzz, will demand the kind of mental and athletic effort of which the collective that may no longer be capable.

That game and group would be enough on their own, but there’s more – loads more. Because not only do we have Bayern Munich v Barcelona after both teams were impressive in victory last week, but with the additional kicker of Robert Lewandowski returning to Bavaria and Internazionale hoping to pip one or other to a last-16 spot.

Then, elsewhere, we’ve got Eintracht Frankfurt visiting Marseille – expect the atmosphere there to be the hot side of steaming – and Club Brugge, who beat Leverkusen in glorious fashion the other day – trying their luck against Porto. Here we go!

Kick-offs: 8pm BST