Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City felt like nothing could beat them this season until they came up against Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool side at Anfield, in the Premier League and recently in the Champion’s League.
City travelled to Liverpool for the quarter-final first leg game and soon found themselves 3-0 down just after 30 minutes of the game when the multi-million pound players were like rabbits in the headlights at the sight of the Liverpool front line coming at them.
Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Mane all got on the score sheet but why did Manchester City, who can win the league with a victory against Manchester United on Saturday, seemingly get a lesson in football?
Liverpool came out the blocks firing on all cylinders and did not let the City midfield control the pace of the game. It is a Klopp tactic to have his teams apply pressure as high up the pitch as they can and at Liverpool he has the team to do it.
Many teams have tried to press City but most have failed, for example Tottenham Hotspurs who were beat by City earlier in the season. Klopp had the privilege to have Milner, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Henderson in his midfield, who technically cannot match the likes of Kevin De Bruyne or David Silva but can match or beat them on hard work. Of course other teams have hard working players but the Liverpool midfield also bring pace with them. This mixture of hard work and speed allowed them to cover the creative players of City and then set onto Fernandinho and the back 4.
Another question that could be asked is of Guardiola’s tactics and team choice. Raheem Sterling, who has scored 21 goals this season in all competitions, was replaced by central midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. Without a natural winger on the right Kyle Walker had no cover and found himself covering his own player as well as the over lapping left-back, Andrew Robertson.
Aymeric Laporte was played at left back after only 1 game in the position before this match. This was a risk taken by Guardiola as Laporte had to face up against Mo Salah who has been on the form of his life this season. The young, inexperienced defender found it hard to handle the Egyptian striker as well as Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Klopp’s team came out to defend the second half as they were already 3-0 ahead and they did this perfectly. The young Trent Alexander-Arnold, at right-back, did not give Leroy Sane a chance in the whole game as the City team seemed to be second best to everything on the night.
Liverpool’s determination and desire in midfield and flair upfront was too much for City to handle and gives them a nice lead going into the second leg and once foot in the next round of the Champion’s league.
By Liam Amos