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Man City's 10 Point Plan To Beating Liverpool In Their Champions League Tie

Man City's 10 Point Plan To Beating Liverpool In Their Champions League Tie
Tuesday,April 10,2018

Manchester City’s Champions League campaign hangs by a thread after their 3-0 quarter-final first leg defeat at Liverpool, but while Pep’s men are down, they’re certainly not out.


Having looked unbeatable for much of the season, and installed as favourites to win the Champions League for a time too, City are in a relative crisis after losing at Anfield and following that up with a home Manchester derby defeat on Saturday, conceding three goals in each game.


Of course they haven’t become a bad team over night, but City certainly need to make a number of adjustments if they are to get their all-conquering season back on track by coming back from 3-0 down in Tuesday’s second leg.


1. Select Sergio Aguero

City need goals and cometh the hour, the man for City is Sergio Aguero. Not only is he a great goalscorer, the Argentinian has a habit of scoring goals in bunches, and if ever City need a glut of goals this is it. Gabriel Jesus has done a good job in Aguero’s absence, returning from injury himself, but he’s only 21 and still learning his job. Champions League quarter-finals are a time for experience and Aguero is the kind of goalscorer that can make a real difference.


2. Pick a Proper Left Back

The experiment of playing Aymeric Laporte at left-back in the first leg didn’t work. The 23-year-old Frenchman may have arrived with a £57million price tag around his neck and bags of potential, but he’s not used to playing at full-back, and while he’s naturally left footed, he didn’t look comfortable. It was notable that both Danilo and Fabian Delph played against United at the weekend, and while neither would choose left-back as their favourite position, both have played there for City this season and look far more at home than Laporte did.


3. Don’t Concede

It sounds obvious in any football match, but in a two-legged game with the away goals rule and already being up against it, this is imperative. City’s defence has been breached three times in each of their last two games, losing 3-0 at Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final, and 3-2 at home to cross-city rivals United on Saturday. Having failed to score an away goal at Anfield, conceding just one goal will surely make what is already a very difficult task just about impossible, given that they’d need to score five times to go through. City’s defence, which had looked rock solid earlier in the season, has developed a bit of a soft centre, and goalkeeper Ederson has started to feel the pressure. Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi look City’s best two centre halves, but if they can’t play as a partnership, maybe it’s time to make a change.


4. Get the Home Crowd Involved

The atmosphere at Anfield was electric and Liverpool were swept along while City, having held out for the first 12 minutes, looked a bit overwhelmed as three goals in 19 minutes flew past them. City need a packed Etihad to be patient and stay with them, but an early goal really would get the home fans believing and test the mettle of a Liverpool defence that has looked anything but solid this season. City need the fans on their side.


5. Attack Down the Flanks

Liverpool’s strengths lie in attack not defence, and especially in the full-back areas they lack experience. Both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have gained plaudits for their performances, but aged 24 and 19 and with little or no European experience, this occasion could pass them by. Both are better going forward than defending, much like the whole Liverpool side, and City have real goal threats out wide in Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling. Guardiola left Sterling out against his former club in the first leg, but surely he must start and be instructed to get at his full-back in the return leg, while the whole team must be instructed to give the ball to their widemen.


6. Don’t Waste Chances

While City come into this game after back-to-back defeats, it doesn’t tell the whole story. They played okay in the second half at Anfield, and looked back to their best in the opening period against United, grabbing a two-goal lead, before the wheels came off again. Against United they made so many chances to make the game safe, especially Sterling, who could easily have had four goals on another day. The chances will come against this Liverpool side, but City have to convert them.


7. Get Silva and De Bruyne on the Ball

The all-English midfield of Henderson, Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain was allowed to overrun City’s midfield in the first leg, and they can’t let that happen again. City have the edge on paper in the middle of the park, and getting the likes of David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne on the ball and hurting the Reds is imperative if City are to make a game of it. As mentioned above, the City midfield must feed the widemen, while also looking for Sergio Aguero over the top. Of course they must also do better stopping Liverpool going forward too, as conceding just one goal is likely to be the beginning of the end.


8. Test Karius

It’s no secret that for all the talent Liverpool possess going forward, they’re not so good at the back, and that defence is built on shaky foundation. The goalkeeping position has been a Liverpool weakness for years, and while Loris Karius is enjoying his longest run in the team, he’s still no world beater and could be exploited. City didn’t manage one shot on goal in the first leg - it doesn’t matter how bad the goalkeeper is if you don’t test him. Karius has got a mistake in him, it’s just a matter of giving him the opportunity to make it.


9. Run the Reds Ragged

Liverpool love to play a pressing game and have definitely, at least at times, put City off their stride in their clashes so far this season. City must use the ball better, keep possession for long periods, make Liverpool chase shadows and ultimately use their freshness come the final quarter of the game to hammer home their advantage. Even at 1-0 with 10 minutes to go City will be in with a chance and as the visitors tire it’s up to them to maintain their belief that they can get the job done.


10. Give Gundogan the Night off

City have only failed to score four times this season - against Liverpool last week, Crystal Palace, Wigan and Wolves - and only one man has started all four games: Ilkay Gundogan. The German may have grabbed a good goal on Saturday against United, but once again he started a game in which City put in a below-par performance. It may be coincidence, or it may be that picking Gundogan means City lack something, but either way, given City’s embarrassment of attacking riches and need for goals, the best place for Gundogan is on the bench.


It’s a well known fact that Liverpool are better going forward than defending, so it will be fascinating to see how Klopp sets up his team. To be fair to him, they sat on their 3-0 half-time lead last week and were relatively untroubled, but will he send them out to grab that away goal that may well be the end of the tie, or will Liverpool invite City on and try and muster the odd breakaway?


This has the makings of a classic European Cup tie and while Liverpool are red hot favourites, don’t count on City getting the blues just yet. Don’t forget to get your predictions in too!


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