MX23RW : Friday, January 18 04:19:43
Apr 4, 2018 at 7.45pm UK at ​Anfield
Attendance: 50,685
Man CityManchester City
Salah (12'), Oxlade-Chamberlain (21'), Mane (31')
FT(HT: 3-0)

Preview: Liverpool vs. Manchester City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides predicted lineups, team news and a full match preview of the quarter-final first-leg tie between Liverpool and Manchester City.

Liverpool and Manchester City take their rivalry onto the European stage this week with their first ever meeting outside of domestic competition.

This tasty Champions League quarter-final tie pits together the Premier League's two highest scorers, netting a combined 163 times between them so far this season, in what should be a classic showdown.


Mohamed Salah is embraced by Jordan Henderson during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Watford on March 17, 2018© Offside

The Reds may trail their opponents by 18 points in the English top flight, having played a game more, but they remain the only side to halt the City juggernaut in the Prem this term.

A memorable 4-3 win at Anfield in January ended the Citizens' hopes of going the entire domestic campaign unbeaten, as Liverpool adopted a perfect gameplan of fighting fire with fire, leading 4-1 with 68 minutes played before almost completely capitulating.

Key to the Merseyside outfit's success in 2017-18 has been the form of forward trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino - described as "almost unstoppable" by opposition boss Pep Guardiola - boasting 19 goals between them in this competition alone.

Firmino has been responsible for seven of those, and the Brazilian forward has also played a direct part in seven goals against City in the past, finding himself on the losing side in just two of the previous seven encounters.

Still, it is Salah who remains the focal point of this Liverpool side thanks to his incredible maiden campaign at Anfield, which has seen him net 36 times overall - the most recent being the winning strike against Crystal Palace last time out.

The Reds have also looked far more assured at the back since Virgil van Dijk's arrival from Southampton in January, keeping a clean sheet in six of their last 10 outings, yet as Palace showed at the weekend there remains an underlying fragile nature that is waiting to be exposed.

Just six losses in 45 matches overall this season shows just how tough to beat Liverpool have been, though, particularly at Anfield where that record reads played 23 and lost just one. In all but three of those matches have Jurgen Klopp's men scored; only twice in their last 19 overall have they failed to do so.

More important than all that could well be the five-time European champions' pedigree on the continental stage, however, up against a City side competing in the last eight for just the second time in their history. Anfield, it is fair to say, is far more used to European nights of such magnitude.

Recent form in Champions League: WWDWWD
Recent form (all competitions): WWDLWW

Manchester City

Raheem Sterling celebrates with Sergio Aguero after scoring during the Premier League game between Manchester City and Leicester City on February 10, 2018© Offside

While Liverpool were cruising to a 5-0 win over Porto in the first knockout stage, City were making similarly light work of Basel as they opened up a four-goal advantage ahead of the second leg.

Unlike the Reds, though, the Citizens succumbed to a 2-1 loss in the reverse fixture to make it two defeats in their last three European outings, the other coming away to Shakhtar Donetsk in the final group-stage match.

Some context is needed in that regard, however, as both of those defeats essentially counted for very little in the grand scheme of things. Indeed, take those dead rubbers out of the equation and City have only suffered two meaningful losses all campaign - one of which came against Wednesday's opponents just a few months back, the other at the hands of Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup.

Guardiola's men have been consistent all season long and are now just one win away from adding the Premier League title to the EFL Cup won a little over a month ago, with victory over arch-rivals Manchester United in between the two legs with Liverpool the perfect way to wrap things up.

A domestic double would mark a successful campaign for Guardiola in his second season in English football, yet there would no doubt be a twinge of disappointment if his side fail to make their mark on the European stage. Only by going all the way and lifting a first Champions League crown would they avoid that feeling of disappointment.

City have certainly gone about their business in the right manner, cruising into the last 16 of the competition with wins in each of their first five group-stage matches prior to the loss in Ukraine with a weakened side pre-Christmas.

Winning on their travels does not tend to be a problem for them, either, having done so in 19 of their 24 matches away from the Etihad Stadium - keeping a clean sheet in half of those - and they have picked up club-record 4-0 wins against both Feyenoord and Basel already in this year's competition.

As Guardiola has already pointed out, however, this match is on an entirely different scale to those that have come before it. This two-legged tie carries far more jeopardy than the clash with United later in the week by virtue of its winner-takes-all nature, as Guardiola attempts to add a third European crown to his collection.

Recent form in Champions League: WWWLWL
Recent form (all competitions): WWWLWW

Team News

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero kisses the EFL Cup on February 25, 2018© Offside

Liverpool are expected to be without Adam Lallana for the rest of the season after the influential midfielder pulled up just five minutes into his return to action against Palace.

Emre Can has struggled with a back problem over the past fortnight, too, so there may be a chance for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to impress in a three-man midfield, potentially alongside two-time City title winner James Milner.

Klopp was given a boost by the return of Nathaniel Clyne to his subs' bench last time out, but it is highly unlikely that the full-back will come in for his first appearance of the campaign in such a big match.

In terms of the visitors, the big question mark surrounds the fitness of Sergio Aguero, who has missed the past few weeks with a knee injury and is touch-and-go to start on Wednesday night.

The Argentina international has never previously scored at Anfield, though, and Guardiola may therefore be tempted to stick with Gabriel Jesus through the middle, flanked by Leroy Sane and ex-Liverpool ace Raheem Sterling.

John Stones will return from a concussion layoff but faces an uphill battle ousting Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi in the heart of defence, while Oleksandr Zinchenko is expected to deputise at left-back in Fabian Delph's prolonged absence.

A number of players are one booking away from incurring an automatic one-match ban, meanwhile, with Danilo, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Jordan Henderson and Alberto Moreno all walking a tightrope.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Manchester City possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Zinchenko; De Bruyne, Fernandinho, Silva; Sterling, Aguero, Sane

Head To Head

This may be the first European meeting between these two sides, but Liverpool certainly have plenty of past experience when it comes to facing English sides on the continent.

The Reds have been paired against a club from the same country on 10 occasions - compared to the Citizens' one - including five times in the Champions League knockout stage.

City and Liverpool have met 178 times overall, with the Merseyside outfit winning 87 of those to City's 45, and they have won both previous two-legged affairs in domestic competition.

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We say: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City

If there is one thing we can expect from this tie it is surely goals. Man City have 88 of them in the Premier League and Liverpool 75, with both teams boasting an array of attacking talents. Neither side will want to lose the tie after 90 minutes, however, and a slightly cagier affair may therefore be played out at Anfield on Wednesday, setting up an explosive return leg the following week.

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Who will win the quarter-final first-leg tie between Liverpool and Manchester City?

Manchester City
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Roberto Firmino and Danilo in action during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Manchester City on January 14, 2018
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Roberto Firmino's record vs. Manchester City

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