Liverpool secured an impressive 3-0 win over Man City in their Champions League quarter-final first leg. Ger McCarthy looks at what the game taught us.
Before kick-off, Jurgen Klopp held the enviable record of six victories and a draw from his twelve Premier League encounters with Pep Guardiola. Yet nobody, including the German himself, could have foreseen an opening 45 minutes in which his side would tear City apart and score three times without reply.
Liverpool inflicted City’s solitary Premier League loss of the season by being brave and going straight for the jugular. Klopp has infused his new club with a work ethic, enthusiasm and self-belief bordering on arrogance but never were those traits more effective than in this Champions League victory.
Mo Salah’s injury apart, the tie is all but over because of the manner in which Klopp’s team’s confident display broke the Premier League champions-elect’s spirit. A Liverpool team playing without fear is one to be feared in the remainder of the competition.
Pep Guardiola has suffered some tough losses during a highly successful managerial career but rarely a more thought-provoking one than at Anfield in the Champions League.
It was only when Mo Salah went off injured and Liverpool tired following their first half efforts that Manchester City resembled something like the team that has overpowered almost every other opponent so far this season.
Up until then, Guardiola appeared shell-shocked at how unbalanced his side looked and unable to stem the red tide incessantly attacking City’s goal. It is clear that Jurgen Klopp learned more than Pep Guardiola following the Citizen’s previous visit.
Manchester City will probably be crowned Premier League champions within the next seven days yet a club that has spent over €1bn in the past decade should expect more from such a lavish outlay.
City’s owners brought Pep Guardiola in to deliver European success but may have to wait a little longer following a humbling defeat at Anfield.
Unsurprisingly, Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah dominated the pre-match build-up as the standout performers for their respective clubs since the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign.
Although De Bruyne and Salah are the main contenders for this year’s Premier League Player of the Year award it was Liverpool’s unsung heroes who made the biggest impact in their stunning Champions League win.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner’s hunger and energy rubbed off on their teammates, upsetting City’s rhythm from the opening minute. The aforementioned duo’s importance to their side was best exemplified by Liverpool’s 21st minute goal when Milner’s thundering challenge setup Oxlade-Chamberlain to thump home a long-range effort.
Add to that, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and Loris Karius’s confident performances and Liverpool’s starting eleven has never looked as solid since Jurgen Klopp’s appointment.