Liverpool head into the quarter finals of the Champions League knowing that they can match up with Manchester City and beat them. They also know that it is City who are rightly favourites given their league standing and their proven consistency.
So says manager Jürgen Klopp, and it’s hard to fault him for it. Liverpool believe that they can win—but they also know that they will have little margin of error, that they will have to be at their best, and that mistakes will almost certainly be punished.
“We know it’s difficult,” said Klopp, reflecting on his last two games against City. “Did we think before the first we would lose 5-0? No. Did we think before the second we would win 4-3? No. Do we know we have a chance? Yes, but that was clear before.
“But they are the favourites. In specific moments, we are on a similar level, but they do it more consistently, that’s why they have around 20 points more. No problem with respecting that, but we all know, in this game, it doesn’t mean too much.”
Respecting that is necessary. This isn’t a side Liverpool can be naive about on Wednesday evening at Anfield, otherwise it’s likely to be another heavy defeat like in the autumn and the Reds out of the tie before the second leg has even kicked off.
But they can’t be cowed by City’s quality, either. That road only leads to the kind of shambolic, lifeless defeat experienced by a sorry Everton side who kicked off against City on Saturday as thought they had already been beaten by them.
Liverpool will respect City’s quality, their consistency, their place in the Premier League standings and role as one of the Champions League’s favourites. They will also know if they play to their potential, they can beat them—as they have already.
“We see our chance but we know it will be unbelievably difficult,” Klopp added. “But if I have the choice to watch a Champions League game, I would watch this one. It’s about tactics but there will be fire. It’s at Anfield so a good atmosphere to watch.”