UEFA Champions League, quarter-finals second leg
When: Tuesday, 10 April, 19:45 BST
Where: Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Manchester City have had an absolutely terrible week. Last Wednesday, they were thrashed 3-0 at Anfield in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool. At the weekend, in a game they needed to win to become Premier League champions, they let a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 3-2 at home against arch rivals Manchester United.
This is a situation in which Pep Guardiola’s men haven’t been in this year. They’ve had it their way so far, and will need to rely as much on character as quality, if they are to make a comeback and qualify for their first ever Champions League semi-final.
Guardiola rested some of his main men at the week against United, but will be seething at how his team switched off after the break, and let the Red Devils back into the game. This put a huge dampener on the mood at the Etihad, which could translate a bit onto the Liverpool game if they don’t get off to a good start.
The Reds, on the other hand, were held to a 0-0 draw in a largely uneventful Merseyside derby on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp knows that with Champions League football for next season more or less sealed, Tuesdays game will be defining. Liverpool haven’t been in the last 4 of the CL since 2008, and will be look to bring the old glory days back to Merseyside, a decade on.
This is going to be an absolutely fascinating encounter. City will need to be on the front foot right from the off, while there is always the threat of Liverpool breaking at lightning-fast speed and scoring on the break. The hosts didn’t score an away goal at Anfield, and that could prove to be costly here, if their defence is breached. If Liverpool score 1, City will have to score 5 to qualify.
Guardiola will have Sergio Aguero to call upon, after the Argentine made his return to the first-team against United. Kevin De Bruyne, who was rested for that match, will also return to the line-up.
Raheem Sterling was a substitute against his former club in the first leg at Anfield, but will be hoping to start this one.
Captain Jordan Henderson is suspended after picking up a booking in the first leg, while a return for Emre Can looks unlikely as the German struggles with a back problem.
Klopp rested Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold at the weekend, and they should all return to the starting XI here.
Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Laporte; Fenandinho, De Bruyne, Sterling, Silva, Sane; Aguero.
Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner, Oxlad-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane.
To cut a long story short, City have left themselves with far too much to do after that first leg. They will be picked off on the counter, and Salah will get more than one chance to add to his 39 goals so far this season. It will be an entertaining and high-scoring game, but Liverpool will go through.
Manchester City 3-2 Liverpool (Liverpool go through 5-3 on aggregate)