Liverpool and Manchester City have been handed an epic quarter-finals tie in the UEFA Champions League, and it could not have come at a better time for the two Premier League outfits to win the bagging rights. One might feel City have an outside edge given the form they have been in domestically. The Citizens are on course to lift the Premier League trophy under Pep Guardiola, but that should not deter Liverpool.
The Champions League is a different ball game altogether, and both teams will be pensive about facing each other in the last eight knowing the road ahead from here on will not be any simpler either. Jurgen Klopp has enjoyed rather decent results against Pep since their time in Germany in the Bundesliga.
This season saw both teams winning their home games against each other, with the Reds being the only side to defeat City in the league so far this season. But that will not give the Anfield giants any sort of peace and restoration, with the battle for the European crown in sight.
The first leg of the tie will be played at Anfield on April 4, before the return fixture on April 10. Between the two legs, both clubs will face derby battles, and both the ties will be of great significance. City could be declared champions of England at the Etihad on April 7, whereas Liverpool will continue their battle for a top four place against rivals Everton at Goodison Park.
However, with the focus being on the exciting Champions League clash, let us take a look at the 3 things Liverpool could do in the game in order to beat City and secure a spot in the semis:
The 4-3 win for Liverpool against City at Anfield on January 14 gave a great depiction of how consistent pressing could help the side. Liverpool’s midfield needs to carry out the job once again, with the forward line too, keeping tabs on City’s movements.
Emre Can will have a big role in bossing the midfield, and he will have to ensure he doesn’t allow City to dictate the proceedings over two legs. The presence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be huge one for Klopp, given his work ethic and versatility in switching from midfield to attack.
Liverpool will have to put a lot of effort over the two legs and identify the right players to counter the approach of their rivals. Klopp has the assets to press high, and the focus for them will be to get a winning score at Anfield, before giving everything at the Etihad.
Punish individual defensive errors
City are vulnerable at times in defence, and that has been identified by the teams that believed they had a chance to force results. West Ham United, Bournemouth and Southampton have all come close to beat the Mancunian giants. Liverpool need to trust their instincts, and with the forward three they have at their disposal, mistakes from City’s defence could be built upon.
That’s where the likes of Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino come into play. With them being one of the hottest attacking trios in Europe, pace and link-up will be key to dictate City’s defensive mistakes, which at times, will crop up. Liverpool will also need to come hard down at City’s left and attack their makeshift defence, and find pockets of space to force the defenders to commit mistakes.
Monaco inflicted a wound in City’s progression last season, and Liverpool can take heart from that performance, with the forwards they have at their disposal.
Defence needs to stick through
The Liverpool defence will need to be monumental in handling the array of attacks which City will throw at them. City have players in all positions that can score, and the task for the Reds will be to keep City at bay, especially with the likes of David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne.
Liverpool have improved in the second half of the season, and this upcoming European encounter will be the perfect stage to apply their development. Virgil van Dijk will add the steel, but he needs his central partner to stand equally tall.
The vital aspect for the Reds will be the manner in which they control City at the Etihad, and not allow their attackers to get the final nail on the coffin. The full-backs have the work on their sleeves in keeping the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sadio Mane at bay.