Football News: Champions League Preview: Manchester City (0) vs (3) Liverpool FC

 

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Champions League Preview: Manchester City (0) vs (3) Liverpool FC
Image from: freelargeimages.com

Not many people gave Liverpool a prayer in this tie. My outrageous but correct prediction of a Liverpool clean sheet in the first leg was slightly owed to Andy Robertson getting away with tackling Raheem Sterling with his hands in the box, but I'll take it!

This game looks much harder for Liverpool, but the stunning display at Anfield has put them in the driving seat. City need to go for it. Truth be told, they need 5 goals minimum because Liverpool will score at least one against their shambolic defence, with Mo Salah in the side.

The problem City have, is that Liverpool can now sit back and soak up pressure, whilst launching quick counter attacks. Make no mistake about it, scoring 5 goals in a Champions League game is not easy. Which makes it even more impressive that Liverpool have scored 5 or more on three separate occasions in one European campaign, propelling them to being the competitions top scorers.

Man City only just put 5 goals past a 10 man Liverpool, and that was before Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil Van Dijk or Andy Robertson were in the Liverpool side. This looks like an impossible task for City with them facing an entirely new Liverpool defence at the Etihad this time; a defence which has started keeping clean sheets on a regular basis.

Team News

Man City:
Vincent Kompany (doubt)
Benjamin Mandy (out)

Liverpool:
Jordan Henderson (suspended)
Andrew Robertson (doubt)
Joe Gomez (out)
Joel Matip (out)
Alberto Moreno (out)
Emre Can (out)
Adam Lallana (out)

Key Battles

After Leroy Sane got absolutely ruined last week, Pep Guardiola will probably test his luck down the right side this game. Raheem Sterling will surely return after the Ilkay Gundogan experiment backfired horribly in the first leg.

With Alberto Moreno out, and Andy Robertson racing to be fit there could be a weakness here as well. Truth be told, even if Robertson is fit he should've conceded a penalty against Sterling in the first leg. This is the main area to watch from City. With Sergio Aguero back, and Kevin De Bruyne rested in the Manchester Derby, there could be a serious threat down Man City's right side, putting balls in for the lethal Argentine.

From a Liverpool perspective though, the key battles will be in two main areas. The first is midfield. With no Jordan Henderson or Emre Can, it will likely fall to Georginio Wijnaldum to play the deeper role. Whilst I actually think Wijnaldum is better than both defensively, he is far too conservative on the ball. He always plays the easy pass.

With how well drilled Man City are at tactical fouls, that extra pass before Liverpool break, could play into Man City's hands and stop Liverpool getting out. It may therefore fall to Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil Van Dijk to launch the counter attacks from deeper, as both have brilliant long range passing qualities.

The other key area will be getting down City's left. Mo Salah will be back, and City have no natural left backs. The Aymeric Laporte experiment failed as badly as the Gundogan one did. So it may fall to Danilo or Fabian Delph to try and contain the second hottest goal scorer in Europe this season. Good luck with that one! The only outside chance I give them is that Salah loves cutting inside, and as right footed players at left back, Salah will be cutting onto their stronger tackling foot. That really is clutching at straws for a bit of City optimism though.

Prediction

Ultimately, this tie is nearly dead. City have damaged themselves severely by failing to score an away goal as Liverpool now only need 1 goal to pretty much kill the tie dead. Liverpool will have to be at it 100% still though. City are no mugs and can score 5 against lacklustre opposition.

There will be no suggestion of rotation for Liverpool as there was in the second leg against FC Porto, and you'd hope if you're a Liverpool fan that your best team minus any red cards, can keep City down to around 2 goals when they have no need to push forward.

City's best bet is to quickly get at James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Georginio Wijnaldum will be consistently looking to them with short conservative passes, and if City can get to them before Wijnaldum plays the ball, they might be able to cut the supply to Liverpool's front 3. It is an outside chance, but I'm backing Liverpool to score more than once anyway. Especially if Vincent Kompany can't play 3 games in 6 days which seems unlikely at best.

My predicted full time score is a 2-2 draw. I think Liverpool will score first, with City coming back strong to lead 2-1. However as City throw the kitchen sink at Liverpool late on, I can see Liverpool hurting them on the break and earning a draw on the night.

Whatever happens, we can all sit back and appreciate another great night of attacking European football. Well, unless you are a bitter Manchester United fan!

Written by Adam Jones



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