NOTWITHSTANDING the possibility that an inner city ambush may have unsettled Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League victory is being heralded as the arrival of a team that can be compared to the club’s great sides of the past.
Ex-Liverpool player, Mark Lawrenson, described his old club’s performance on the BBC site: “The way they played before the break was a signature display by a Klopp team – showing no respect to the opposition and giving them no respite.”
The manner of City’s defeat – “Anfield pressure cracks Guardiola’s bid for greatness” – raised question marks about all the accolades being handed to the champions-elect, certainly those that ckaim they are the best Premier-era team. This was, after all, the second time that Liverpool have exposed City this season.
Oliver Kay of The Times, commented: “Nobody should underestimate the difficulty of facing this Liverpool team, in this mood, on one of those fabled nights when the Anfield crowd seems to imbue the home players with an air of invulnerability.”
As Henry Winter confirmed, though, “City lacked Liverpool’s hunger until the second half”. By then, they were 3-0 down, but unlike the league meeting at Anfield, City did not have a response.
Even after such an exciting win, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was cautious. The Guardian reported that the likeable German insists the tie is not over, bearing in mind that City beat the club that likes to call itself “European royalty” 5-0 earlier this season. Daniel Taylor provided some hint of what Liverpool fans might expect: “One certainty is that Klopp will not see it as a night for conservatism and, judging by the way City defended here, the five-time winners should be confident about adding to their total when they head along the M62 next Tuesday night.”
Klopp seemed to know to upset City, who have had it mostly their own way all season. “Klopp’s view was that the only way to take on the Premier League champions-in-waiting was to attack with pace and adventure, pin back the opposition full-backs and hope, perhaps, to catch Vincent Kompany and Nicolás Otamendi having a poor evening.” Otamendi, Kompany and the entire City defence were awarded just two marks by the Times’ Paul Hirst in the player ratings!
The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce was as partisan as you’d expect from a die-hard fan, but made a point: “The foolish labelled it a myth. They doubted the power of Anfield. They won’t do it again after Manchester City were brought to their knees amid the cauldron on an unforgettable night. Liverpool have one foot in the semi-finals of the Champions League after humbling the Premier League champions-elect and writing a new glorious chapter in the club’s illustrious history. Here was fresh proof of Anfield’s enduring ability to inspire those in red to remarkable heights and intimidate even the most star-studded opponents in equal measure. City owner Sheikh Mansour can afford most things, but he can’t buy passion like this.”
The second leg will be interesting, but Liverpool will surely join Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the last four. That’s if the pre-match display don’t come back to haunt Liverpool. UEFA officials were monitoring the arrival of the City coach and disciplinary action may follow, although it is doubtful it will prevent Klopp’s team from advancing.
Sources: BBC, The Times, Guardian, Liverpool Echo
Photo: Phil Chambers via Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0