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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Liverpool-Manchester City: English fury in the quarterfinals

Por Jack Leyva

No other match in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League will face teams with such a good knowledge of their opponent. The Liverpool FC and the Manchester City FC are two teams of the Premier League that have a have a history of heart-breaking games. This game will reflect the different styles of Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp, two very well-known managers searching for titles in England after being successful in other strong European leagues.

The teams got to the quarterfinals after having surpassed very easily the round of sixteen, mostly because of their high amount of goals in their games as visitors. The Manchester City ran over the FC Basel 0-4 in Switzerland while the Liverpool team destroyed the F.C. Oporto 0-5 in Portugal, which allowed them to go with no pressure to the games in which they were they were the home club, in the Etihad Stadium and Anfield respectively. The knockouts should not be as easy due to the tied level between the teams and the many times in which they have measured against each other so surely the definition must be in the return game.

On plain sight, we could say that The Citizens are favorite if we take as reference their high level in The Premiership and its fabulous roster, which took millions of pounds sterling. No stars are missing from The Sky Blues managed by Pep Guardiola, who has all the pieces that he needs to put into practice his game style of retained possession and keeping the ball moving although a little bit faster now because of the characteristics of his players. For example, Sterling, who used to play for the Liverpool FC, Leroy Sane y Kevin de Bruyne have a great domain of the ball but they also bring speed to the game, something that did not happen as much in his Barcelona teams. However, Guardiola has found the tempo of his team's play supported by the good passing abilities and vision of David Silva and İlkay Gündoğan.

The Reds, however, make no pause. They are a tremendous team with the spaces but they lack players that can hold up the ball. The player that used to do that is now playing for the FC Barcelona (Phillippe Coutinho) so the team will be in the hands of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firminho, the forwards who follow Jürgen Klopp’s tactical plan.

The most worrying thing for the Liverpool and the City in this knockout is the performance of their defenders when facing their mighty rivals. Proof of that is the fact that in this season when they played in the Premier League, The Citizens won 5-0 and in the return game The Reds defeated them 4-3 in an emotional game. Historically, the Liverpool FC has had more opportunities because it has been in this phase 13 times but not for a decade, while the Manchester team has gotten here only on one occasion (2015-16).