Liverpool takes on Manchester City in the Capital One Cup Final at the Wembley Stadium. The tactical genius Jurgen Klopp faces the cool and calculating Chilean. Although, this cup isn’t as highly regarded as the FA Cup but winning it will be a special way for Klopp to introduce himself to the English game. While Manuel Pellegrini can sign off on a high, as he is being replaced by Pep Guardiola at the end of the season.
The Reds are the most successful side in England after Manchester United. But recently the club has found it hard to find themselves in the top four and to compete for any silverware. Since Klopp’s arrival, there is a ray of hope for the fans. They know if anyone can transform their side, it’s this German. Since his arrival, we have seen flashes of brilliance from the Liverpool side and hunger for victory. The 4-1 thrashing of the citizens and 3-1 demolishing of the Blues at their respective backyards showed exactly what Klopp and his high-pressing football is capable of.
A few players will be playing against their former sides. Sturridge will be facing the club where he initially made a mark. Milner, who has spent five years in Manchester, will get a warm welcome from the City fans. While it will be a different story for Raheem Sterling, Liverpool fans will show their feelings for the winger every time he receives the ball as there is no love lost between them. The Toure brothers will be facing each other with Kolo claiming in an interview that he will do whatever it takes to stop his brother.
Bony, Navas, Mangala and Sagna are all back from injury, and Pellegrini will surely play a strong side, unlike the team he played against Chelsea in the FA Cup. While Sturridge, Firminho and Coutinho are all set to start for the Reds. Manchester City has failed to register a win against Liverpool in the last eight games in any cup competition, losing six in the process. Moreover, Klopp has reached a cup final in each of his last five seasons as a manager.
The immature announcement of Guardiola’s during the season has cost Manchester City heavily. Since this news broke out, City has lost back to back home games to Leicester and Spurs at home and has crashed out of the FA Cup with a humiliating 5-1 defeat to Chelsea. The players have taken their eye off the ball, and Yaya Toure doesn’t look interested at all as he knows he has no future at the club. Man City will have to be on top of their game if they want to come out victorious from this one and the players owe it to their departing manager.
Liverpool needs to play their high pressing football and will most likely play at the counter against the Citizens. They need to be clinical in front of goal. The pressing game leads to errors from the opposition due to pressure, and City has already made many defensive mistakes this season. Kompany’s presence will make it hard for Liverpool to break them. Moreover, lack of depth in Klopp’s squad and playing their second game in a span of four days with high pressing tactics might be too much to ask from the side.
It will be a tactical battle between the two sides which would be a delight to watch. Players have a point to prove to Pep and arguably playing for their future. On the other hand, only in a short period, Klopp has won the support of the fans and winning this trophy will further increase their love for ‘The Normal One’.
Words by: Hassan Shahid