Season-defining days ahead for Liverpool, Man City’s history bids

Liverpool’s quest for a quadruple and Manchester City’s bid to match Manchester United’s historic treble of 1999 are on a collision course over the next two weeks.

Premier League leaders City will host a potential title decider against second placed Liverpool on Sunday before the fierce rivals clash again in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley on April 16.

However, the impact of the Champions League quarter-finals could have a big impact on who claims the domestic trophies.

Liverpool on paper have the better draw in the last eight as they take on Benfica, while City face a gruelling two legs against Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp declared the Premier League as “the most important” prize up for grabs for his team, who have already lifted the League Cup this season.

But that cannot be the case for City as they aim to end the club’s long wait for Champions League glory.

Anything other than a convincing win when Atletico visit the Etihad on Tuesday will give Guardiola a difficult balancing act on his team selection for the title showdown against Liverpool.

“The next Premier League game we will play against Liverpool. We know they are going to win almost all the games – hopefully not the next one – but we will try to do the same,” Guardiola said after City beat Burnley on Saturday to reestablish their one-point lead over Liverpool.

“When you arrive in May challenging to lift the title it means you have had an incredible season. Being here is because we work a lot and we have done that every single season.”

‘Insane levels’

Liverpool are happy just to be in this position after finding themselves 14 points adrift of City at one point in January.

A 10-game winning run has reeled in the English champions, setting up another titanic fight between the sides, reminiscent of their record-breaking battle in 2018/19.

City emerged winners on that occasion by a single point despite Liverpool amassing 97 points, the fourth highest points tally in English top-flight history for a 38-game season.

The other two were also registered during an era marked by the excellence of Guardiola and Klopp’s sides.

City hold the record for the 100 points they recorded in 2017/18, while Liverpool responded in 2019/20 to end their 30-year wait to win the league with 99 points.

“In the last few years we’ve pushed each other on insane levels,” added Klopp.

This year, history will be marked in the number of trophies won.

United’s feat of winning the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup is the only time that particular treble has been won by an English side.

“The next Premier League game obviously is a big one, we do not hide from that. It’s all good,” said Klopp.

“We are not favourite in one of the competitions we are in, but who cares? We will give it a try.”

With City and Liverpool on different sides of the Champions League draw, there is also the possibility for them to meet again in the final in Paris on May 28.

Thiago Alcantara played under Guardiola at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but the Liverpool midfielder believes the next two months could surpass everything he has experienced so far in a trophy-filled career.

“It looks like a World Cup where every game is a final. With that we are in a one-mission mood,” Thiago said.

“The other day I was talking with some friends about it. I never had, in the years that I have been involved in football, a month so exciting like this with such important matches every three days. It will be amazing.” – Agence France-Presse

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Kieran Canning
Kieran Canning
Football correspondent for Agence France Presse in London. Still a follower of all things Spanish football. Views here are my own

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