Man City and Liverpool’s fierce but friendly rivalry

Manchester City and Liverpool also drew 2-2 at Anfield in October – just a point separates them in the table

Manchester City’s game against Liverpool on Sunday was a fierce battle on the pitch, but full time there was nothing but respect for each other.

With the title on the line and just seven games to go, the players and managers of both clubs could have been forgiven for letting their emotions boil over during and after the 2-2 draw, which has been seen many times before. when the title rivals took the lead. to manage.

But there was a mutual appreciation from both sets of players and a sense that they had played a game of the highest quality.

After a thrilling 90 minutes that had it all – goals, VAR decisions, crisp tackles and an ever-evolving narrative – players and managers embraced each other.

The Brazilian contingent of City’s Gabriel Jesus and Ederson and Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Alisson met full time to discuss the result.

City boss Pep Guardiola shook hands with counterpart Jurgen Klopp before hugging, while Kevin de Bruyne was quick to highlight the quality of their opponents in his post-match interviews. match.

“A lot of players know each other because they live in similar neighborhoods. My kids go to school with a lot of their own and are friends with them,” De Bruyne told BBC Sport afterwards.

“Private is private, but once we’re on the pitch, everyone gives their all for the team. I think that’s how it should be. You don’t have to fight all the time We fight on the pitch and that’s it.”

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Liverpool full-back Andrew Robertson kissed full-time Manchester City’s Phil Foden

Rivalries over the Premier League years were often marked by heated press conferences and heated exchanges in the tunnel between players.

While Rafael Benitez was in charge of Liverpool, he suffered numerous exchanges with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho in the media as the two met in high-stakes European competition.

Former foes Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson locked horns on numerous occasions while in charge of Arsenal and Manchester United respectively, while midfielders Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane translated that rivalry into field.

But Guardiola wanted Klopp to know full time that he ‘respects him a lot’.

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The two have met 23 times in total – a rivalry which had already started in the Bundesliga when Klopp was at Borussia Dortmund and Guardiola was in charge of Bayern Munich.

“I don’t know if Jurgen respects me but Jurgen must know that I respect him a lot. He made me a better manager,” Guardiola said.

“His team is still there, they are still aggressive. We are not friends, we never see each other, I have his number but I don’t call him. I have respect for him, but he knows next Saturday [in the FA Cup semi-final] I will try to beat him.”

Jurgen Klopp (left) described Pep Guardila as ‘the best coach in the world’ earlier this week

Ahead of Sunday’s showdown, Klopp admitted he wouldn’t be sad to see Guardiola’s back when he finally retires, but described him as ‘the best coach in the world’.

“Everything I say about City I really mean it. Pep is the best manager in the world, no problem with that, but I always wanted to be the manager of the team that can beat the best team of the world,” he added.

The two teams face off at Wembley in six days for a place in the FA Cup final and could yet meet in the Champions League final if both progress.

The title race also promises to be to the wire – since the start of the 2018-19 season, combining all four campaigns, City and Liverpool have been separated by just one point.

And the idea of ​​the two fighting again is one that will surely excite Klopp, who described the 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium as ‘a standout game’ on a ‘completely different level’.

“Two heavyweights biting each other. It’s crazy the intensity. It was a real game of football.

“If you played for another club yesterday, if you won, if you trained today and then if you watched City against Liverpool… I don’t know what I would have done to watch it but to be a part of it? I can’t help but be amazed. I love this.”

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