Liverpool will take on rivals Manchester City in the second leg of the quarterfinals with a healthy advantage from the first leg.
Manchester City face an uphill task to mount a comeback when they face off against Liverpool in the second-leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinals tie at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Pep Guardiola’s Citizens were overwhelmed in the first leg at Anfield last Wednesday, when they were beaten 3-0 by Liverpool courtesy of first-half strikes from Mohamed Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sadio Mane. The loss was followed by another demoralizing defeat for the Sky Blues, as they were handed a 3-2 defeat by neighbours Manchester United in the Premier League this past weekend.
They face a gargantuan task of overturning a hefty lead on Tuesday against the Reds who are unbeaten in their last four games in all competitions, with their latest fixture ending in a goalless draw against Everton in the Merseyside derby.
Team News & Tactics
Defenders Benjamin Mendy and John Stones are the only two City players whose involvement is in doubt for Tuesday’s crunch clash. Having rested some key players for the Manchester derby this weekend, Guardiola will definitely ring in the changes as he chases a victory against Liverpool.
Ederson will remain in-charge of guarding the goal for the Mancunians on Tuesday. The Brazilian has conceded 7 times in just two games against the Reds and will be keen on shutting them out completely this time out.
Kyle Walker, who was rested for the United game, is expected to be back in the lineup at right-back, at the expense of Danilo while Fabian Delph will keep his spot on the opposite side. Both will be tested by the pace and guile of the Liverpool attackers and will need to be at the top of their games. In the heart of the defence, captain Vincent Kompany will line up alongside Nicolas Otamendi.
Kevin De Bruyne will have a major role to play from the midfield, if City are to stand a chance of overturning the deficit. He is almost guaranteed to be partnered by the ever reliable Fernandinho and City’s other creative spark, David Silva.
Raheem Sterling did not have the best of games against Manchester United and will be hoping to bounce back against his former club from the right-flank. On the left-wing, Leroy Sane too has been a little off colour in the last two games and will want to make a mark on Tuesday.
Leading the attack for City will be the club’s all-time leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who returned from injury for a cameo against United. A lot will be riding on his shoulders, if the Sky Blues are to spark a turnaround.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Ederson; Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Delph; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane;
The biggest scare for Liverpool heading into Tuesday’s game is the uncertainty over the fitness of star man Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian missed the weekend’s derby due to an injury, but is expected to be available for the European encounter. However, captain Jordan Henderson is set to miss out due to suspension.
Andrew Robertson and Alberto Moreno are also in line for a return, after having missed the game against Everton. Emre Can also remains sidelined along with the likes of Joe Gomez, Adam Lallana and Joel Matip.
Loris Karius was in fine form against the Toffees over the weekend and will be hoping to make it three consecutive clean sheets in all competitions on Tuesday. Trent Alexander-Arnold was brilliant in the first leg and will reclaim his spot at right-back from Nathaniel Clyne, while Robertson should return at left-back. Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk will partner up in the centre of the backline.
In the absence of Henderson, veteran Englishman James Milner is likely to occupy the deepest position in the middle of the park. He will be provided support by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Georginio Wijnaldum on either sides.
Salah is expected to be fit and available for selection for the game and in that case, he will take up his rightful place on the right-wing, while fellow goalscorer from the first leg, Mane will be lining up on the opposite flank for the Reds. Through the middle, it will be Roberto Firmino who will replace Dominic Solanke from the starting XI.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-3): Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane;
- If Manchester City manage to go through to the semifinals, they will become only the third club in Champions League history to have overturned a 3+ goal deficit from the first leg in the knockout stages – Deportivo against Milan in 2003/04 and Barcelona against PSG last season are the other.
- Manchester City won their home league game against Liverpool 5-0 this season – their only win in their last nine games against them in all competition (D2 L6)
- Liverpool could become the first team to beat Manchester City three times in the same season since Manchester United in 2009-10.
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last five Champions League away games (W2 D3). They last went six without defeat on the road in the competition between March-December 2005, during which time they won the trophy.
Player to watch
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
The Argentine striker hasn’t started a single game in over a month owing to knee injury problems. He made his comeback on Saturday, appearing as a substitute against Manchester United. Aguero has been City’s chief goalscoring threat throughout the season and has already netted 30 times this term in 38 games across all competitions.
The 29-year old has scored six times in 18 appearances against Liverpool and Guardiola will be banking on him to lead City out of the troublesome situation on Tuesday night.
Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool
Despite Liverpool’s strong position, the tie still remains open and both teams will go in with an attacking mindset, which means goals are guaranteed once again. City have very little margin for error given the result from the first leg, but it is hard to see them not conceding after how they have played in the last two matches.
Guardiola’s men will fight back but Liverpool’s attack will exploit any space that they leave behind and as a result, we at the Hard Tackle expect a 2-2 draw on the day, with the Reds going through on aggregate.