By Israel Igiri
Liverpool and Manchester City clash at Anfield in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie in what promises to be thrilling and dramatic. It is a confrontation between two of Europe’s most charismatic, high-profile managers in Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola.
It certainly promises to be a titanic clash between the two best attacking sides in the Premier League, with 163 goals between them. The centerpiece of the strategies of the two teams is an attack that has the potential to outscore any opposition.
While Guardiola’s men thumped the Reds 5-0 in the Premier League in September, Klopp’s side triumphed with a 4-3 victory in the reverse fixture in January, that being City’s only defeat in their runaway title success.
This is a game that will see Liverpool go all-out attack, while City will play the possession game bolted on to the pace of a superb attack, which is Guardiola’s hallmark.
The Merseyside club will be counting on the trio of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane who have scored 75 goals in 119 games in all competitions- with Egyptian Salah scoring a remarkable 37 goals in 42 appearances, to get a favourable lead going to the Etihad next week.
With Sergio Aguero missing in this one, the Citizens will look to Raheem Sterling, David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus to get a positive result against the young-talented Reds.
Both teams would certainly be fighting for a place in the semi-finals. And with the two managers having heavy attacking weaponry at their disposal and the refusal of Klopp and Guardiola to ever take a backward step makes this a potential Champions League classic.
Salah and De Bruyne- the great personal battle. They are vying for the player of the year honours and have been the standout symbols of their team’s success this season. Both players are expected to have a significant, potentially decisive, impact on this quarter-final.
Virgil van Dijk vs Gabriel Jesus
The Dutch defender only joined Liverpool in January but is indispensable to Klopp’s squad at the moment. He is easily the best defender for the Reds and will have to be at his best for his side to take anything from this game. He will be up against an exciting Gabriel Jesus who is yet to lose a game for Manchester City. Van Dijk is strong in the air but the Brazilian provides a different kind of threat, which will surely test the former Southampton man.
Mo Salah vs Danilo
With Fabian Delph and Benjamin Mendy out injured, Danilo is expected to start at left back against Liverpool tonight, and he will have one of the toughest games this season. Salah who just cannot seem to stop scoring, will look to do the same against City and unless he is covered for and kept quiet, the Manchester side have no chance of taking anything from this game.