UEFA Champions League: Manchester City v Liverpool – Etihad stadium – April 10, 2018 – Round of 8 – 2nd leg clash preview
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City have a huge task going into their 2nd leg clash of the Champions League with Liverpool at Anfield. Not only were the undisputed Premier League leaders completely outplayed in the 1st leg, but their famed attack couldn't even get one shot on target.
The usually electrifying City players were sloppy at the best. They lost possession quickly and any potential attack fizzled out the moment the ball crossed the half-line. Inexplicable was the late introduction of the in-form Raheem Sterling almost an hour into the game. The absence of Sergio Aguero must have hurt them even more. However it's hard to imagine that his presence would have made any difference to the proceedings at Anfiled. The attack on the City coach by rowdy Liverpool supporters just before the match may have left the visitors considerably shaken.
For City, Aguero looks doubtful with a prolonged knee injury. Fans will be looking to Guardiola to start off with Sterling in place of the not-so-effective Ilkay Gundogan. He may have to abandon the 4-2-3-1 formation he adopted in the Liverpool game where he had someone of the ability of De Bruyne player very deep.
Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany and left-back Aymeric Laporte who looked so solid some matches ago simply crumbled in the face of the Red's attack. That could well happen when Liverpool will probably be resorting to a vicious hit-on-the-breaks game in an encounter where Manchester City will be pressing upfront in search of goals.
The Liverpool defense comprising of Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk will be hoping to continue the good work they did at Anfield out at the Etihad where they are likely to face a much more belligerent City attack.
If Salah were not to feature in the critical mid-week clash his replacement would be Dominic Solanke who featured in the final 20 minutes of the 1st leg clash. But the potent combination of Firmino and Salah that creates such havoc among rival defenses would be missing without the Egyptian around.
Barring a stunning comeback from the hosts, one can safely assume that Jurgen Klopp's men are half-way through to their first UEFA Champions League semi-final in 11 years.