Champions League Quarterfinals | Tactical Preview – Liverpool vs Man City

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With the draws being completed and the fate of the last eight have now been decided, Liverpool and Manchester City popped out as the last two teams chosen by Andreiy Shevchenko. For the first time since Chelsea vs Manchester United in the 2010-11 season, we are to witness an all English derby in the Champions League Quarterfinals. The draw confirms the spot of one English team in the Semi Finals among other European Giants, and most importantly, is touted as the best game of the Quarterfinals fixtures in terms of attacking prospects and absolute entertainment.

This article is a brief preview on the matches and will look to explain the basic ideas with which both the teams would plan to approach the game.

Tactical Plan:

Manchester City:

While it is obvious that Guardiola would field his team in a 4-3-3, the City manager is expected to field his strongest squad at his disposal for this game at the Anfield. That being said, Sterling and Sane might start in the wings as they have been a deadly combination for City going forward, while also considering the former’s blistering start to the campaign with four goals in six matches. Should everybody be fit, it is going to be the defensive area where Pep would have a headache.

Choosing two out of Kompany, Stones, Otamendi and Laporte is a herculean task. The partnership of Stones and Otamendi have been formidable so far in the Champions League though one could do well with the experience of Kompany in the XI and Laporte’s calmness on the ball. Considering the experience in this competition, Gundogan may be given the nod ahead of Fernandinho should Pep decide to field a team going for all-out attack.

In the game earlier in the season, when City won 5-1 at the Etihad, Liverpool looked to attack through the right in the earlier stages but City were able to see off the pressure from Salah and attacked them centrally. City opened up the scoring through the developments centrally and it can be seen in the image below.

Liverpool vs Man City 1

As we can see, Aguero has actually moved into the space where Jesus already stays. This creates an overload for the defender as he up in a 2v1 situation. The defender in the central defensive area wants to keep up the spacing and the line right as he compromises that Aguero will be marked by the other defender. But with Jesus on the other side, he cannot move with the Argentine striker hence giving Aguero the space and time to run with the ball.

All he needs here is a ball through the gap between both the players where the space is, which is exactly what de Bruyne does. Aguero and de Bruyne perfectly capitalized on the mistake as the former moved Mignolet aside to score City’s first goal.


Liverpool on the other hand have also been using the 4-3-3 which concentrates on the Gegenpress while Pep’s system concentrates more on positional play. Klopp’s team have been producing some brilliant attacking displays with some naming their attack even better than the League leaders, City. However it is the defense where they have failed to impress but with the introduction of VVD, Liverpool have been stable so far and Karius have put in some decent displays to add to the favour of Klopp.

Liverpool’s main attacking scheme has been to release their best players Mane and Salah in the wings especially from the developments in the centre through Firmino.


Liverpool’s high pressing had been crucial in stifling City’s build up play back in their win against the Cityzens in January. Here are some instances.


While this should unarguably be the best encounter in the four games, this draw could’ve brought some disappointment in certain set of English fans as only one English team can progress to next round and not two. Pep may have wanted to avoid Klopp considering the better head to head record the German boasts but would definitely be happy for the fact that the second game will be played at the Etihad. And considering how much home work he puts in, one will definitely expect him to come up well after the recent loss at the Anfield. All in all, this should be a cracker of a match up decided over two legs, something similar to yesteryear’s matchup between Manchester City and Monaco.


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