There is no longer a title fight in any of the top European leagues! Manchester City versus Liverpool FC. Premier League leaders host the second. The two best English teams of recent years are separated by only one point in the standings. On Sunday (5:30 p.m.), a head-to-head duel will decide who will hold the title.
A giant peak. Also with the coaches. Pep Guardiola (51) against Jurgen Klopp (54). For them it is the 22nd direct duel, Klopp has never met a coach more often. The balance sheet: balanced – with nine victories each.
Many of the previous duels went down in history. In April 2018, Liverpool knocked out City in the Champions League quarter-finals – a huge blemish in a season that saw Team Pep record a league-high 100 points.
In January 2019, with City leading 2-1, 11.7 millimeters on the goal line ruled a Liverpool goal unscored – after the defeat, the “Reds” were no longer able to catch up with their rivals and, despite their own points record (97), finish with them second, one point behind.
And now? A victory at Liverpool would be the story of a great comeback. At the start of the year, the cult club were still eleven points behind, but with a ten-game winning streak they have moved up a point.
“Klopp has found that little something after a difficult year,” says James Pearce (44), who has reported on the club for the “Liverpool Echo” and “The Athletic” for 17 years: “He doesn’t see the pressure in the situation, but the possibility of gaining something.
The famous attacking trio of Mo Salah (29), Sadio Mané (29) and Roberto Firmino (30) became one thanks to Diogo Jota (25/20 goals this season) and the new winter recruit Luis Díaz (25/for 45 million Porto). Pack of five Storm.
” data-zoom-src=”https://bilder.bild.de/fotos/im-hinspiel-holten-jack-grealish-l–und-raheem-sterling-mit-man-city-ein-22-bei-liverpool-7d4b8aee3f5c48ada2c5e92b5c65d137-79684500/Bild/1.bild.jpg”/> In the first leg, Jack Grealish (left) and Raheem Sterling drew 2-2 against Man City at LiverpoolPhoto: PAUL ELLIS/AFP
In the first leg, Jack Grealish (left) and Raheem Sterling drew 2-2 against Man City at LiverpoolPhoto: PAUL ELLIS/AFP
Other keys: Defense chief Virgil van Dijk (30) is back to full fitness after a torn cruciate ligament. And Klopp has been working with Neuro11 since the start of the season, a special brain training program that trains set-piece decisions – and Liverpool have scored the most goals in the league (16) from dead balls.
On the other side are Manchester City, who won 12 consecutive league games between October and January and have been playing like clockwork for years. The demands at City are so high that Guardiola panics even when he wins. After beating Brugge 4-1 in the Champions League, the Spaniard shouted to his players in the dressing room: ‘I’ve had enough’ – and left without a word.
“Pep is proud to be able to fight for the title year after year. Very few teams manage to do that in the Premier League”, explains Martin Blackburn (48), municipal journalist for the “Sun” for 14 years.
The particularity: City plays without a real striker. Instead, Guardiola sends Phil Foden (21), Bernardo Silva (27) or 116m Jack Grealish (26/of Aston Villa) to the top as the so-called ‘false nine’. Despite everything, the “Citizens” score more than two goals per game on average.
Sunday’s duel is just the beginning. A week later, the two played in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley. In the Champions League, there could be a reunion in the Parisian final. The quadruple is possible for Klopp, he already has the League Cup.
For City and Guardiola, it is a question of finally winning the first pot of handle in the history of the club after the final defeat of last year (0-1 against Chelsea). Blackburn: “It could easily make him forget about the league. Because Pep knows that if he doesn’t win the Champions League, some at City would see him as a failure.”