By Mihail Vladimirov.
This Saturday’s game at 5:30pm has two extremely contrasting clubs facing each other. This is far from uncommon, but the extent by which Man City and Liverpool differ from each other in every single aspect is what makes this clash sort of a special case.
On the one hand, we have the English ‘Galactico’ – Man City’s mega squad, filled with international stars in every single position, possessing some of the best players in each position in the division. Such status has been forged – and since then consistently maintained – thanks to the transfer policy of buying world-class players, which came immediately after the Citizens were taken over by their mega-rich owner back in 2007. Obviously, this makes City a team that is always fighting for the top honours, a team that is expected to win games and titles every single season.
On the other hand is Liverpool, the total opposite of what Man City represent. For all their proud and rich history, the Reds are no more than a ‘competitive’ club these days. The team isn’t filled with stars or the best players in the league as the squad is the type of ‘up and coming hopefuls’, which also reflects precisely the difference in the transfer strategy of both clubs.
Such an obvious contrast between what both clubs currently represent is made even bigger now given the two entirely different type of managers they have at the helm. Similarly to the teams they now manage, Pellegrini and Klopp are the total opposite and hardly have something in common when it comes to how they go about their managerial duties.
The Chilean is calm, relaxed and rarely shows any kind of emotion to the point of often being labeled as dull, distanced and an extreme introvert. The German meanwhile galvanizes emotions and then feeds off them with his passion and, often, controversial antics and bordering fanatical extrovert behavior during games. In terms of tactical preferences, Pellegrini is all about creating a total domination based on his very specific possession and positional play. In contrast, Klopp is most famous for his emphasis on what his team does when it is out of possession, resulting in his obsession with the now very recognisable pressing strategy named ‘counter-pressing’.
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After an extremely productive first season, back in 13/14, winning the domestic double and exciting with his unique brand of football – Pellegrini endured a very poor second campaign last time out. Looking at it, the team didn’t really crumble and drop down several notches – but they didn’t win anything, and yet finished second place in the league and went out at the same stage of the Champions League as they did before (Round of 16).
The main disappointment was the huge drop off in terms of overall performance-levels and the tactical regression the manager oversaw, or better said – struggled to arrest sooner and prevent building a negative momentum. The team remained rather one-dimensional with their approach, the insistence of the manager to persist with his 4-2-2-2 variation and not adapt it when and if it was seemingly necessary, led the team into a cycle of underperformance and stagnation.
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