Jurgen Klopp: How Liverpool Boss 'Suffocated' Guardiola’s Manchester City in Anfield Clash

Jurgen Klopp: How Liverpool Boss 'Suffocated' Guardiola’s Manchester City in Anfield Clash

Martin Moses
updated at March 12, 2024 at 8:31 AM
In this article:
Liverpool logo
Manchester City logo
Manchester City
English Premier League logo
ENG Premier League
Joe Gomez logo
J. Gomez
Liverpool logoDEngland logo
Kevin De Bruyne logo
K. D. Bruyne
Manchester City logoMBelgium logo
Erling Braut Haaland logo
Manchester City logoFNorway logo
  • Pep Guardiola admitted that his side was lucky to leave Anfield with a point
  • Jurgen Klopp tweaked his formation in-game to deal with Guardiola's tactics
  • Sports Brief analyses how Liverpool almost ran away with maximum points

If the March 10 clash at Anfield was the last time Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp would ever meet, then they gave their modern-day rivalry a befitting send-off.

Not many teams in Europe can play such a high-intensity game without succumbing to pressure for 90 minutes of end-to-end mouthwatering action.

Erling Haaland, Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool vs Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp vs Pep Guardiola
Virgil Van Dijk attempts to close down Erling Haaland during Manchester City's game against Liverpool on March 10. Photo by Alex Livesey - Danehouse.
Source: Getty Images

Only that the one-all final result flattered Manchester City - by Guardiola's admission, the defending champions were lucky to come out with a point as Liverpool reigned terror on them in the second half.

"We spoke at half-time that in this stadium if you have to defend something, you have to play and play and play. We gave away the penalty and, sooner or later, with this stadium, you have 15 or 20 minutes, and it looks like a tsunami coming for everybody who has the ball," said the Spaniard, as quoted by BeIN Sports.

Again, not many teams get the better of Guardiola's teams, but Klopp did so, with only the final result lacking.

Man City settled quicker in the game, suppressing the Anfield pressure with the characteristic Guardiola tiki-taka football.

They seemed to be in absolute control of the proceedings, with Kevin De Bruyne's ingenuity from a corner kick leaving them with something to show for it.

Liverpool's equaliser and the Joe Gomez play

But after the break, Klopp reworked his team, sending the prodigious Conor Bradley upfront to help Harvey Elliot double-team Nathan Ake. Guardiola's revised 3-2-4-1 formation, where one of the centre-backs (John Stones) plays in midfield, meant that Ake was isolated at left-back position.

Five minutes in, the pressure paid off with Ake's short backpass forcing Ederson into committing a foul inside the area on Darwin Nunez.

As Bradley pushed forward, Jarell Quansah, Virgil Van Dijk, and Joe Gomez formed a back three to counter City's attacks in case they lost possession. After the goal, the system was tweaked again, with Gomez stepping into the midfield to allow one of the midfielders to push forward and help in build-up play.

This exposed Liverpool at the back as only Van Dijk and Quansah were available, but the Reds duo barely put a foot wrong. To put it into context, Mohamed Salah, who was introduced in the 61st minute, had more touches than Erling Haaland, who lasted the entire 90 minutes.

Why Guardiola took off De Bruyne

Manchester City hardly saw the ball from minute 50 to around the 69th minute, with Liverpool's new midfield five overrunning them. After that sustained pressure, Guardiola made the bold but necessary decision to withdraw De Bruyne and replace him with Mateo Kovacic.

The Croat is a better progressor of the ball and excels in tight spaces. His introduction nullified Liverpool's overloading in the middle of the pack and restored balance.

"We needed a player that had the ball and would keep it. It's not about pressing, it's not about this play, and that's why Mateo is really good with that," said Guardiola.

This was a perfect demonstration of chaos against control. Klopp thrives on making his opponents uncomfortable, and there is no denying Guardiola felt that. He should have gotten the three points, but for neutrals, the two delivered another classic treat in their last dance.

VAR decisions that have gone against Liverpool

Sports Brief has also compiled a list of the times VAR decisions went against Liverpool this season.

Jeremy Doku was fortunate to avoid conceding a penalty at Anfield after his hit on Alexis Mac Allister.

After the game, Klopp was insistent that the decision should be '100% a penalty for all football lovers.'

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Martin Moses is a sports journalist with over five years of experience in media. He graduated from Multimedia University of Kenya (Bachelor of Journalism, 2017-2021)
Jürgen KloppPep GuardiolaAnfield