Liverpool vs. Manchester City
| Wednesday, April 4th|
Champions League | Anfield
19:45 GMT / 14:45 EST
It’s been nine years since Liverpool last reached the quarter final stage of Europe’s premier cup competition and despite the brilliance of their opposition tomorrow night, the Reds will hope they can do better than was the case in 2009, when they were eliminated 7-5 on aggregate by a Guus Hiddink-led Chelsea.
Make no mistake about it, though, Manchester City are formidable. With a goal difference exceeding the points total of every other team in the league, the kind of quality in depth only oil billions can buy, and a manager whose tactical astuteness and intense man management go hand in hand, the Citizens could reasonably be promoted as the best side in Europe.
Most Reds fans will be familiar with the multitude of attacking threats posed by Guardiola’s squad, given that they have put 8 goals past the Anfield outfit in their two meetings this season. Explosive threats like Leroy Sané, Gabriel Jesus and former Red Raheem Sterling are fed a steady diet of through balls and crosses from playmakers Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva, while Sergio Agüero remains one of the deadliest strikers in the game. Buttressed by a system that seemingly tilts the pitch towards the opposition’s goal, Manchester City are a relentless offensive force.
Virtually injury free — only Benjamin Mendy is definitely out, while Agüero and Fabian Delph could be ready for bench duty — City can call on the entirety of their significant talent, and Liverpool will have to be on top form in order to secure a favourable result ahead of the return leg.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Karius; Alexander-Arnold, van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson; Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mané, Firmino, Salah
For all the praise deservedly heaped on Pep Guardiola’s City side, one should not underestimate the ability of Jürgen Klopp’s men, nor their fit in the German’s strategy. Virgil van Dijk has rallied the defensive ranks, while the front line is among the very deadliest on the planet, combining for a total of 75 goals between them in all competitions, bested only by the consistently undermatched Paris Saint-Germain trio of Cavani, Neymar and Mbappé.
Loris Karius’ status as number one remains undisputed, while a thigh injury to Joël Matip, the continued absence of Joe Gomez, and Nathaniel Clyne’s lack of match fitness, means that the back four more or less picks itself; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Dejan Lovren and Andy Robertson will play. The duel between Alexander-Arnold and Sané will
In midfield, Emre Can’s back trouble sees the German absent, leaving Klopp with only four fit first team options, likely having to pick between the workmanlike endeavours of James Milner and the more continental box-to-box stylings of Georginio Wijnaldum to partner with captain Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The front three is the front three and will remain the front three until the heat death of the universe. The front three is universal. The front three is all. Seriously, though, 75 goals. Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah are formidable, and should inspire a healthy amount of fear in the Sky Blues defenders.
The Officials (GER)
Referee: Felix Brych
Assistants: Mark Borsch, Stefan Lupp
Fourth official: Markus Häcker
Additional assistants: Bastian Dankert, Marco Fritz
Kickoff is set for 19:45 GMT/ 14:45 EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.