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Sports

Bayern swagger is back as Klopp returns with Liverpool

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BERLIN (AP) — Confident after finally reclaiming the lead in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich again turns its attention to the Champions League, where it hopes to finish the job at home against Juergen Klopp’s Liverpool on Wednesday.

The teams drew 0-0 in the first leg of their last-16 match at Anfield and five-time European champion Bayern is hoping to ruin Klopp’s return to a familiar opponent and reach the quarterfinals for the eighth straight year.

Everything seems to be coming together at the right time for the Bavarian powerhouse, which grabbed the lead in Germany with a 6-0 thrashing of Wolfsburg at home on Saturday. That followed a 5-1 away demolition of Borussia Moenchengladbach the week before.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice to become the league’s top-scoring foreign player of all time with 197 goals, while Bayern also sent a clear signal to Germany coach Joachim Loew after his apparent rebuke on Tuesday.

Loew dropped Thomas Mueller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng from the national team, but all three started and impressed in the rout of Wolfsburg. Mueller scored one and set up another.

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“We have respect, but no fear,” Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said of Liverpool’s visit.

In the other second-leg games in the last 16, Atletico Madrid visits Juventus on Tuesday. Manchester City hosts Schalke on Wednesday, and Barcelona hosts Lyon.

While Bayern has put itself back in title contention since their first leg, Liverpool’s domestic challenge weakened after winning only two of its four Premier League games.

Even against relegation-threatened Burnley, Liverpool had to come from behind to win 4-2 on Sunday. City now leads by a point.

“We have no problem with confidence,” said Klopp, who is familiar with Bayern from his time as Borussia Dortmund coach. Klopp’s Dortmund lost the 2013 Champions League final to Bayern in London.

“You make a big fuss when we score five and we are the best attacking side in the world, then we scored nil and we have an offensive problem,” Klopp said.

But Klopp must be worried about the form of forward Mohamed Salah. The Egypt star has now gone five games without scoring, a run that began against Bayern in the first leg on Feb. 19.

Here’s a look at the other games:

MANCHESTER CITY VS. SCHALKE

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While Bayern is riding high in the Bundesliga, rival Schalke is in crisis with seemingly little hope of recovering from its 3-2 defeat at home against 10-man City in the first leg.

Schalke has other concerns after three defeats and seven Bundesliga games without a win. It is perilously close to the relegation zone. The club’s managing director resigned and his replacement has only given conditional backing to coach Domenico Tedesco. Jochen Schneider said he saw enough promise in the side’s 4-2 loss at Werder Bremen on Friday to convince him to stick with Tedesco in charge.

But Tedesco is living from game to game, and Schneider will be looking for more signs that Schalke can drag itself away from its troubles with a morale-boosting performance in Manchester.

City is well placed to reach the quarterfinals for the third time in four years.

JUVENTUS VS. ATLETICO MADRID

With a two-goal deficit from the 2-0 first-leg loss in Madrid, Juventus will face an Atletico Madrid defense that hasn’t conceded in five straight games.

Diego Simeone’s team has conceded in only two of its last nine games — against Real Betis and Real Madrid in the Spanish league.

After losing finals in 2014 and 2016 to rival Real Madrid, Atletico may feel that this is finally its year with the three-time defending champion knocked out last week and the final to be played in its own Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on June 1.

Simeone will be without some key players because of injuries and suspensions, including Lucas Hernandez, Filipe Luis, Diego Costa and Thomas Partey.

Juventus was able to rest its star players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, at the weekend due to a 16-point lead going into the weekend’s Serie A fixtures.

The 19-year-old Moise Kean staked his claim to start against Atletico with two goals as Juventus romped to a 4-1 win over Udinese.

Kean has only played 12 minutes in the Champions League this season, coming on as a late substitute in the Bianconeri’s 3-0 win over Young Boys in the group stage. His only other appearance was a six-minute cameo in 2016.

Juventus is taking inspiration from extraordinary comebacks by Manchester United and Ajax in the last-16 second legs against Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, respectively.

“We believe we can do it, we’re doing very well, and the recent Champions League matches have taught us that it’s never over,” goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny said.

BARCELONA VS. LYON

Barcelona appears to have found its scoring touch since it was held 0-0 at Lyon in the first leg.

Since squandering several chances in France, Barcelona has won four games by outscoring opponents 11-3, including two wins over Real Madrid.

Lyon coach Bruno Genesio is trying to figure out why his team keeps making the same mistakes, evident again when Lyon conceded two goals inside a minute to draw 2-2 at Strasbourg on Saturday in the French league.

He’s not sure if it’s “too much confidence or a big lack of maturity.”

Whatever the reason, Lyon will likely be punished even more heavily if it repeats the same errors against Barcelona.

Genesio has a big talent in Nabil Fekir and will hope the France forward, who missed the first leg through suspension, is in top form after resting him until the last 15 minutes of Saturday’s game.

Lyon has additional firepower with Moussa Dembele and Memphis Depay supporting Fekir in attack, but whether Lyon’s defense holds out for long enough is another issue altogether.

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Associated Press writers Daniella Matar, Tales Azzoni, Jerome Pugmire and Rob Harris contributed.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

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