Manchester City v Liverpool – 7.45pm Tues 10th April 2018 – UEFA Champions League QF 2nd leg Preview and Match Day Thread
Pep Guardiola and his Manchester City side face a huge challenge in the return leg of this Champions League quarter-final if they wish to progress in the competition. One that was made even bigger by the events that unfolded on Saturday evening which left City fans incredulous.
After throwing away the chance to secure the Premier League title when they imploded at the Etihad in the derby, City come into this game having taken two massive blows to their confidence and self-belief. Many Blues will have been watching the horror unfold on Saturday evening with a growing sense of dread. What could have been a crowning, once in a lifetime opportunity was spurned – the players had history firmly within their grasp and then casually let it slip through their fingers like grains of sand.
A magnificent season is in danger of being tarnished by a weak finish as City fail to demonstrate the steel and mettle required of the very top sides. These have been some very harsh lessons and it will now take a monumental effort of willpower for the players to pick themselves up mentally and physically to turn around this Quarter Final tie.
After a thoroughly professional job from Klopp and his players last week City enter this tie with a 3 goal deficit and no away goal to hang their hopes on – almost certainly a dream scenario for the away side. Make no bones about it the pressure and onus is all on City creating a situation which could be tremendously dangerous and which strangely almost still put the tie on a knife-edge.
Whoever scores next could hold the key to the whole affair and will shift the dynamics of what could still be a fascinating and pulsating game. If City manage to claw their way back into the game and reduce the deficit early or even get it back to a single goal…….then that might see the arrival of ‘Squeaky Bum Time’ for the team in red. But if Liverpool secure an away goal, well then the mountain City have to climb will have gotten steeper yet. Fascinating stuff.
To this end my expectation is that Klopp will demand much of the same in the first part of this game as we saw at Anfield – high tempo pressing all over the pitch to knock City out of their stride, regain possession and strike fast knowing that Pep has to set his team up (as always) to take the game to his opponent and seek those critical goals. City need to be much sharper and more composed than they were in the first half of the 1st leg especially – possession was given away far more regularly than we have come to expect and this created the opportunities which Liverpool were ruthless in exploiting.
Pep’s choice of team will almost certainly see the return of Raheem Sterling and potentially a change at left back where Laporte, for all his attributes and skills was of precious little assistance last week in distracting Trent Alexander-Arnold and providing Sané more space to operate in. A more clinical approach to finishing and a return to the composed interplay would be welcome together with some testing of Karius who was pretty underemployed in the 1st leg. The availability or otherwise of Sergio Aguero could also hold a vital part in determining this tie – young Jesus was left chasing shadows at Anfield and was dominated by Van Dijk and Lovren.
To be confirmed.
City should be at full strength with the exception of the long injured Mendy.
I was under the impression that yellow cards were ‘wiped’ after the quarter finals but have been unable to clarify the situation –
“49.04 Exceptionally, all yellow cards and pending yellow-card suspensions expire on completion of the play-offs. They are not carried forward to the group stage. In addition, all yellow cards expire on completion of the quarter-finals. They are not carried forward to the semi-finals.”
But according to the Disciplinary Chart, Danilo, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Otamendi, Fernandinho and Jesus are all slated as being one yellow card away from a suspension:-
Clarification will be forthcoming I am sure on the night.
Liverpool will be without Jordan Henderson who is suspended for the second leg. He joins Matip, Lallana, Gomez and Can who will be absent through injury. Robertson and Salah are expected to be available.
Possible starting XI
Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Delph
De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva D
Sterling, Aguero, Sané
Bravo, Danilo, Laporte, Zinchenko, Gundogan, Silva B, G Jesus
City have been written off as far as this tie is concerned by many in the media and were certainly put on the back foot last week both in terms of Liverpool’s performance and the result. But this tie is not over and the City players MUST go into the game believing that they can turn it around although that is a task which was made much, much harder after the capitulation on Saturday evening.
They will need to dig very, very deep into their reserves of commitment, self-belief and resilience to challenge Liverpool right from the off – they cannot afford to stand off and allow their opponents to settle into a comfort zone.
There can be no attempt to match the disgraceful and shameful scenes witnessed outside the ground on Merseyside last week – I have spoken elsewhere about how I feel both LFC and Merseyside were complicit in generating the hostility which resulted in criminal damage and illegal use of flares outside the ground before the game. The weak condemnation by the pundits on the evening was frankly as much of a disgrace and as shameful as the acts of the moronic pond life responsible for the damage. Given the co-commentary from Steve McPointalot last week I was left in no doubt as to where BT Sport’s sympathies lay – it felt like a throwback to the time under Pellegrini when City reached the semi-final of the competition only to have this fact ignored by the hierarchy at BT Sport and omitted from their official promotional material. The progression of Liverpool seemed likely to suit their marketing and sales team far better than City making it through.
Time to show them they backed the wrong horse and for the players to repay some of the faith shown in them by the supporters. We thought they owed us after the first leg – they owe us big time after the second half collapse against the Galacticos.
City need to focus on delivering a performance to remember this Tuesday evening – we cannot replicate Anfield or the Kop, but the club, the players and the fans must perform to the highest standards of behaviour and professionalism to secure an outcome which we can all be proud of as fans of Manchester City Football Club.
We know what has to be done. Let’s make our own ‘glorious European history’!!
Come On City!!!