Pep Guardiola has two Man City selection policies to choose from vs Liverpool


The runners or the lockpickers; Pep Guardiola has a big selection dilemma in the forward line when Manchester City take on Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final.

Battered, bruised, but ultimately successful, City return to the UK from a grievous Champions League quarter-final second-leg in the knowledge they have now navigated three quarters of a daunting fortnight schedule.

It started with the first-leg against Atletico Madrid last Tuesday, where Kevin De Bruyne’s lone goal was enough to earn victory on the night – and eventually in the tie. That came a comfortable home game against the Spanish champions, but an end-to-end affair with Liverpool in the Premier League – which ended 2-2 – was physically and mentally exhausting.

Combining that week with the chaotic second-leg at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, the City players will be understandably sapped of energy and Guardiola will have a tough task to refocus their minds on an important semi-final clash.

READMORE: How Man City vs Liverpool in FA Cup could impact Champions League final

With such a demanding schedule, the Catalan boss has shuffled the pack in the forward line for each fixture. It has become clear that, with the personnel available, City have two different ways to operate in attacking areas, dependent on the opposition.

Against Atletico Madrid in the first-leg, Guardiola surprised a few when he decided to line-up with Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling in the front three. They are two exceptionally gifted footballers, but their abilities are able to shine when there is an opportunity to run in-behind defences, rather than against Diego Simeone’s low block.

It was telling that shortly after Phil Foden’s introduction to proceedings, he was able to pick the lock and create City’s opening goal. In the closing stages, Jack Grealish — who was also a late substitute — was able to use his quality in tight spaces to win fouls in dangerous areas – the game was made for them sort of players.

The game against Liverpool five days later was completely different. Jurgen Klopp’s side typically like to play with a high line, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson allowed to fly forward and create opportunities to switch the play with ease; it was that very method that created Diogo Jota’s equalizing goal.



Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head once more in the FA Cup semi-final (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

But that does leave space for quick and technically brilliant wingers to exploit, and Guardiola’s use of Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling for that very reason was perfect. On numerous occasions, one lofted ball from centre-back to the wing allowed the pair to dart in-behind and create big chances to score.

It begs the question why the manager set-up would any other way this weekend. Jesus – due to suspension – was fully rested in midweek and will be full of energy and rare to go again. Sterling. albeit with 20 more minutes under his belt, he will also be feeling fresh to face his former club.

Injuries to Kevin De Bruyne and Kyle Walker may cause a few issues in other areas of the field, but last Sunday was proof a high-flying forward line is capable of causing the Liverpool defense all sorts of issues.




www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk

Related Posts

George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *