In recent times, no two clubs have shown quite the same consistency in winning matches and hearts with their playing style, as Liverpool and Manchester City.
When the two sides face off today in the Premier League 2021-2022 season fixture, the Merseyside club only trails by a point from table toppers, City, in what has been a riveting few fixtures. Today’s match is likely to have a heavy impact on the title race.
Tiki taka finds its match in gegenpressing
Coached by brilliant footballing minds Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, the two English Premier League sides embody different philosophies of football.
Guardiola’s “take the ball, pass the ball” mantra has worked great for City and his approach to positional football has allowed the former Barcelona manager to unlock Kevin De Bruyne’s potential in a way it has not been tapped into before.
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Meanwhile, Klopp’s rigorous training practices have made the Liverpool side a formidable one that simply doesn’t tire. With an expert application of “gegenpressing”, the former Dortmund manager is perfectly poised as a counter to Guardiola’s football strategy.
While City’s playstyle is to retain the ball and start playing out from the back, Liverpool’s aim is to keep pressing constantly, forcing an opening, and getting the opponent on the counter.
Throwback to another great rivalry
Since 2018, the two clubs have accumulated total points of 337 and 338, respectively. While Liverpool didn’t win the Premier League in 2019, they created enough pressure on City to force them to win the last 14 games. City achieved this feat.
In some ways, this City-Liverpool rivalry is reminiscent of the Arsenal-Manchester United clashes during the Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson era.
The United coach had commented on this memorable rivalry, saying “You are always looking in the rear-view mirror to see who is coming up behind you and when you see someone you accelerate. Arsenal were catching us up. And their team was good enough to go above us, there was no question about that.”
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However, the Gunners and Red Devils soon saw things go sour with Cesc Fabregas’ pizza throw or the tunnel clash between Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira.
Bettering the beautiful game
With Liverpool and City now, both teams’ performances push each other to do better. Guardiola is certainly no stranger to toxic rivalries, having taken on Jose Mourinho-led Real Madrid, in what has been some of the widely watched El Clasico fixtures, elevated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s presence.
However, in Klopp, he has an opponent who shows a degree of mutual respect. When Guardiola said “Liverpool are the toughest opponent I have ever faced in my 12 or 13 years as a manager. Hopefully we can say we are a pain in the arse for Liverpool too”, Klopp agreed, saying that’s how “it should be”.
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The German added, “We are pushing each other and that is how it is and it keeps you going. There is no chance to get a bit soft because the other one will be there immediately to catch you”, Sky Sports reported.
As the two sides clash today, their rivalry is only expected to uplift the beautiful game.