Big Match Focus: Liverpool vs Manchester City

Liverpool have the upper hand on Manchester City as the Premier League rivals prepare to lock horns in the UEFA Champions League for the first time on Wednesday.

UEFA Champions League
4 April 2018
Quarter-final, first leg
Kick-off: 20H45 (GMT+2)
Venue: Anfield

Referee: F. Brych
Assistants: M. Borsch, S. Lupp
Fourth official: M. Hacker

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS

Liverpool 208 102 52 54
Man City 208 54 52 102

Previous encounter:

Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City 14/1/18 (Premier League)

Liverpool goalscorers: Oxlade-Chamberlain (9′), R. Firmino (59′), S. Mane (61′), M. Salah (68′)

Man City goalscorers: L. Sane (40′), B. Silva (84′), I. Gundogan (90′)

Players to watch:

While Mohamed Salah has spearheaded the Reds’ attack in devastating fashion this season, City will also need to be wary of Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, who both scored against them at Anfield in January, along with the Egyptian.

Salah, Firmino and Mane have combined for a staggering 73 goals in all competitions this term.

David Silva was an unused substitute against the Merseyside giants last time out and the Spanish midfielder will be keen to make an impact on this occasion. Silva is in good form of late with four goals and three assists in his last five appearances for the Citizens.

Team form and manager quotes:

The Reds have won five of their last eight encounters against City and remain the only team to have beaten the champions-elect in the league this season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are in good form coming into the quarter-final, first-leg tie, having lost just once in their last 10 matches across all competitions.

The Merseysiders continue to challenge for the runners-up spot in England’s top flight, having bounced back from a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United with wins over Watford (5-0) and Crystal Palace (2-1).

They advanced to the last eight of Europe’s elite club competition with a 5-0 victory on aggregate against FC Porto in the last 16.

Klopp wants a repeat performance from his players after admitting they were at their best when they beat the Citizens 4-3 in January.

“We need to be at our best. In a few moments [in the 4-3 against City in January] we were at our best,” the German said in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

“It’s about doing it again and playing at 100% again. They’re the best team in England, if not the best team in Europe. It’s a big game.”

“[Beating Man City] is a big job. We wanted to go as far as possible in the competition, so it was clear that we would have to face the best teams in the world.

“City’s confidence is probably at an outstandingly high level, but we’re in a good moment as well.”

City boss Pep Guardiola is only one win away from claiming his first league title in England and he could achieve that feat on Saturday against neighbours Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

But the Spaniard is firmly focused on getting the better of Liverpool this time around, with his side having dropped points just once in eight league games since the slip-up at Anfield – a 1-1 draw at Burnley on February 3.

Guardiola is not about to change his game-plan in a bid to make that happen and has called for a group effort on their return to Merseyside.

“I’m not so arrogant not to think about Liverpool. But I can tell you we won’t defend for 80 minutes and try and take our one chance. Why change our approach when it’s been working so well? We try to respect them while trying to impose our game,” he told the assembled media on Tuesday.

“The way we play is perfect for Liverpool. The way they attack the space, they are so good. Of course we will try to do something, but I feel the best way to win is to play how we’ve been doing as a group all season.”

Team news:

The hosts are short in defence with Joel Matip joining Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan on the sidelines this week, while Emre Can remains doubtful after sitting out Tuesday’s training session.

Adam Lallana is also ruled out after limping off at Selhurst Park this past weekend, although Klopp is confident the England international will return to action before the end of the season.

The visitors are still without Sergio Aguero, who is making progress from a knee injury, but this game comes too soon for the Argentine striker.

However, Fabian Delph has returned to contention having recovering from a muscular problem after a recent three-match suspension.

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