It’s (almost) mission accomplished for Liverpool in the Champions League quarter final following a 3-1 victory at Benfica. While away goals are no longer a factor, the Reds will still bring a comfy two-goal cushion back to Anfield and know that they only realistically need to net once on home soil to book their spot in the last four.
The Portuguese adventure got off to the best possible start on Tuesday when Liverpool netted from a corner after just 17 minutes – not the first time that the Reds have shown their class from set pieces this term.
Ibrahima Konate was the recipient, leaping highest to head home Andy Robertson’s pinpoint delivery, and the Reds were well and truly on their way.
Rather than resting on their laurels, Liverpool continued to push forward but found Benfica goalkeeper Vlachodimos in excellent form – he denied Mo Salah, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, whose previous spell at Porto ensured he got a lively reception from the home fans.
But Vlachodimos was not a miracle worker, and Liverpool’s constant pressure would tell in the end. A sublime pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold found Diaz, and his precise nod down landed in the path of Sadio Mane, who made no mistake.
Did Liverpool go to sleep during the half time break? That can be the only explanation for Konate’s otherwise inexplicable mistake just four minutes into the second period – Benfica striker Darwin Nunez seized upon that and made the Reds pay for their lackadaisical return to the pitch.
At least that provided the catalyst for an immediate improvement, with Vlachodimos again a busy customer in the Benfica goal, but it wouldn’t be until the 87th minute that Liverpool finally got their comfort-inducing third – Diaz showing revenge is a dish best served cold on the football pitch with a composed finish.
Continental matters will be parked for the time being as a rather important Premier League game is on the horizon. The Reds travel to Man City on Sunday, and given the one-point gap between the sides at the top of the table, it’s a contest of unimaginable importance.
Liverpool Team News
It won’t have escaped the notice of Liverpool fans that Joel Matip was given the night off in Portugal, while Jordan Henderson and Jota only came on for the last half an hour.
That trio will surely now start on Sunday, and with Salah a given starter on the right there could be a straight choice between Mane and Diaz for the left wing berth – the former’s experience and defensive work perhaps securing him the nod.
Henderson will join Thiago and Fabinho in midfield, you suspect, if all are fit, while Matip will probably be restored in the centre of defence alongside Virgil van Dijk.
Manchester City Form
It has been an outstanding season for Manchester City so far.
They earned a 1-0 lead over Atletico Madrid in their Champions League quarter final in midweek, and if you look at their Premier League form Pep Guardiola’s men have only lost once since November 6.
A formline of W17 D2 L1 tells the extent of the tale since, and it will perhaps not be lost on Reds fans that Jurgen Klopp has only won one of his last eight games managed against his old adversary Pep.
So City are favourites on home soil….but only a fool would write off this Liverpool side.
Manchester City vs Liverpool Betting Tips
This is one of those games where it becomes almost impossible for punters to try and predict what is going to unfold.
Both Manchester City and Liverpool have looked unstoppable at times this term, and while we don’t usually pay too much heed to head-to-head records, one of the variables that perhaps makes City favourites is that Pep seems to have the wood on Klopp from a tactical perspective.
Parking the Champions League and Community Shield games to one side, the two teams have met seven times since the start of the 2018/19 Premier League season, and the formline reads W3 D3 L1 in City’s favour.
Of those, Over 2.5 Goals has landed in 5/7 and Both Teams to Score in 5/7 as well, so already we have built a picture of how we expect this game to go.
In fact, using a bet builder tool we can package these selections up together – Man City to win or draw, Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams to Score can be rolled into a treble at around 2.70.