The Big Match Tactical View: Liverpool v Man City

Jurgen Klopp is likely to ask Lucas Leiva to continue in defence
Jurgen Klopp is likely to ask Lucas Leiva to continue in defence
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The Capital One Cup final pits Jurgen Klopp against Manuel Pellegrini. Michael Cox looks at their tactical decisions, while Alan Thompson provides the betting lowdown...

"This might be the perfect game for Klopp to show his tactical acumen, and demonstrate exactly why Liverpool appointed him."

Liverpool v Manchester City
Sunday 16:30, Sky Sports 1.
Match Odds: Liverpool 3.412/5, Man City 2.35/4, The Draw 3.55/2.

This should be a truly fascinating Capital One Cup final at Wembley - Manchester City are clearly the better side, but Jurgen Klopp might be able to outwit Manuel Pellegrini tactically.

Liverpool thrashed City 4-1 at the Etihad in these sides' last meeting, the Reds' best performance under Klopp so far. On that occasion, Liverpool played without a recognised central striker, with Roberto Firmino and Coutinho cutting through City's backline repeatedly. Things will be different this time around, with Daniel Sturridge leading the line - but City won't relish the prospect of taking on the two Brazilians once again.

Liverpool seem likely to be unchanged from Thursday's narrow 1-0 victory over Augsburg in the Europa League, partly because Klopp still has major injury problems, and therefore not too many options across the pitch. The only significant attackers on the bench on Thursday were Divock Origi and Christian Benteke, neither of whom have much chance of displacing Sturridge here.

At the back, Klopp has been fielding Lucas Leiva in the centre of his defence, and barring an unlikely return for Dejan Lovren, it seems the Brazilian will continue alongside Mamadou Sakho. Lucas clearly lacks pace, which could be a real problem against Sergio Aguero - but then Klopp will hardly solve this problem by bringing in Kolo Toure. Lucas did well against Augsburg, but is nevertheless their weak link here.

Emre Can and Jordan Henderson will continue in midfield - an energetic, all-action combination, but probably not ideal for facing the threat of David Silva between the lines. James Milner will shuttle up and down on the right against his former side, with Coutinho drifting inside from the left to combine with Firmino - and hoping Sturridge makes good runs in behind City's defence to receive through-balls.

Pellegrini also has injury problems to contend with - and, similarly, might be unchanged simply because there aren't many other options. Full-back is the exception, where the more attack-minded Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov could return in place of Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy, but otherwise expect few changes.

The interesting feature of City's 3-1 win at Dynamo Kiev was the positioning of Fernandinho, fielded in an unfamiliar right-sided role. This had the benefit of David Silva playing centrally with Yaya Toure deeper alongside Fernando in midfield. It remains to be seen whether Pellegrini continues with this system - Toure could move higher, Silva wider and Fernandinho deeper - but things worked nicely in Ukraine, so it makes sense to continue this way.

This means Silva in close proximity to Aguero, a recipe for through-balls, while Fernandinho will track the runs of Alberto Moreno. Toure is often a concern in the deep midfield role, however, and his tactical indiscipline could leave Fernando regularly exposed to Firmino's movement and Coutinho's drifts inside from the left.

Centre-back has been City's main weakness this term, but they look more stable with Vincent Kompany in the side, while Nicolas Otamendi was excellent in midweek too. These two form a good partnership, although they must be careful when attempting to play offside against Sturridge.

The most interesting individual battle will be Raheem Sterling's duel with Nathaniel Clyne. The Liverpool right-back is capable of matching the winger in terms of speed, so Sterling might look to sneak inside and influence the game more centrally.

City are understandably favourites, but this might be the perfect game for Klopp to show his tactical acumen, and demonstrate exactly why Liverpool appointed him.

The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson

Manchester City will have to beat the most successful club in this competition at Wembley on Sunday if they are to lift the Capital One Cup; Liverpool have won this competition eight times and been runners up on three occasions. City though have won it more recently, just two years ago when they beat Sunderland 3-1, while Liverpool’s last success was when they had to go to penalties to see off Cardiff City and lift the trophy in 2012.

Both clubs enjoyed success midweek, Liverpool moving to the final 16 of the Europa League where they will meet Manchester United and Manchester City getting a great result in Kiev, winning 3-1 which leaves them within touching distance of a quarter-final place in the Champions League for the first time in their history.

Pellegrini has a great chance in this one-off game at Wembley of signing out with a trophy, despite his main targets remaining the Champions League and the Premier League. Providing they start with the likes of Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, David Silva and Yaya Toure then I expect them to win this and at 2.32 that looks a fair price for them to do so in 90 minutes.

There have been goals in this final recently, just the one 0-0 in 2009 and six of the last 10 finals have seen a result over 2.5 goals at 90 minutes. So I will be splitting my stake, half backing Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.0 and the other half backing Manchester City @ 2.32. As long as the game produces over 2.5 goals then no loss is incurred but we could get both bets up should City win.

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