Rio Ferdinand praises Fabinho after his performance for Liverpool v Bayern Munich


Many people feared for Liverpool ahead of their Champions League last-16 first leg against Bayern Munich on Tuesday night after the team line-ups were released.

The Reds - without the suspended Virgil van Dijk and injured Dejan Lovren - started with Joel Matip and Fabinho at the heart of their defence.

Facing them was one of the greatest strikers of the modern era, Robert Lewandowski. The chances of Liverpool keeping a clean sheet felt remote.

BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand wasn’t convinced Matip and Fabinho would be able to cope with Bayern’s attack, and Lewandowski in particular.

On the Polish striker, he added: “He’ll be looking at this game thinking ‘if I don’t come out of this game with at least one goal’, he’d be disappointed I’m sure.”

However, Matip and Fabinho managed to stifle Lewandowski and the rest of his Bayern Munich teammates.

Liverpool kept a clean sheet as the two teams played out a 0-0 draw.

Speaking after the match, Ferdinand reserved special praise for Fabinho, who exceeded his expectations at centre-back against the Bavarian outfit.

Liverpool v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

“I thought he was fantastic,” Ferdinand told BT Sport.

“I think for any player to come into the backline in such a big game – all eyes on him – especially having to replace the talisman, the best player in Virgil van Dijk, he did an admirable job.

“I thought every question asked of him he answered well, in the right way. He was aggressive when he needed to be.

“These kind of players are invaluable to a team; someone who can fill in, in variable positions – he can play right back, centre-half now, centre midfield. He scores goals, he’s assisting at the moment, so he’s having a great impact on this team. Very, very positive.”

Fabinho was on top of his game from a defensive perspective and he needed to be.

Without the Brazilian, Liverpool probably would have conceded and would have been left with a mountain to climb ahead of next month’s return leg at the Allianz Arena.

But it’s all to play for following Tuesday night’s stalemate and Ferdinand believes Liverpool will advance to the quarter-finals.

"I’d be in that changing room and thinking: 'You know what boys, we can [do] this.’,” the former Manchester United star added.

"I’m confident Liverpool will go through, I really am. Just because of the attacking prowess they’ve got, the devastation that they wreak.

"If I’m a Liverpool player or the manager I’d be happier. I’d think I can go there and score."

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