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March 15, 2019

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Reds aim to steal a march on rival City

Riding the crest of a wave after its superb victory over Bayern Munich, Liverpool has the perfect opportunity to edge back in front in a titanic English Premier League title race at struggling Fulham on Sunday.

With leader Manchester City continuing its audacious pursuit of a quadruple the previous day in the FA Cup quarterfinal, Liverpool has the chance to sneak two points clear of Pep Guardiola’s side with victory at Craven Cottage.

While City would then have a game in hand, points in the bag at this stage of a title run-in, especially with big UEFA Champions League clashes looming on the horizon, can be a huge advantage.

Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp said before Wednesday’s UCL last-16 clash in Munich that victory could “change the world” for his team — rather than hinder their domestic title bid.

And the way the Reds controlled the Bundesliga giants for a 3-1 victory will give them a massive surge of confidence.

“It is a fantastic sign that we again set a mark for LFC, for this wonderful club, that we really are back on the landscape on international, top-class football,” Klopp said.

The only slight concern was an ankle injury sustained by skipper Jordan Henderson that means the midfielder will miss the trip to Craven Cottage.

Yet even without him it is hard to see a relegation-bound Fulham side beaten in nine of its last 10 EPL matches causing too many problems.

In the two games it has played under caretaker boss Scott Parker, its third manager of the season, it showed signs of life in defeats by Chelsea and Leicester City.

German champion Bayern, meanwhile, is desperate for a domestic league and Cup double to rescue its season after becoming the third Bundesliga club to lose to an English side in the UCL last 16.

The Bavarians’ home loss to Liverpool on Wednesday followed Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, who were eliminated by Tottenham Hotspur and City, respectively.

Bayern coach Niko Kovac will now only occupy himself with how his team can win the domestic silverware on offer.

Bayern, which has won 12 of its last 13 league games, hosts Mainz 05 on Sunday, having taken over the top on goal difference from Dortmund, which only weeks ago was leading by seven points.

“There are still two titles up for grabs,” Kovac said. “We are leading in the Bundesliga and are still in the mix in the German Cup.”

For Kovac a domestic double would be a personal success in a turbulent first season at Bayern as it chases a record-extending seventh straight league title.

With little transfer investment in the summer and none in the winter, Kovac was forced to make do with an aging Bayern squad, the oldest in the league, which was screaming for an overhaul.

“Our aim is to win both competitions. We have every right to be disappointed by our Champions League exit but we have to clear our heads by Sunday and look ahead,” Kovac said.


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