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Manchester City v Liverpool: Top five games in Pep Guardiola’s rivalry with Jurgen Klopp

The Premier League returns from the international break with a bang on Saturday as Manchester City welcome Liverpool to the Etihad Stadium for the next instalment in one of English football’s most absorbing rivalries.

Opposing bosses Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have spent over a decade battling it out for major honours since first locking horns in Germany during their respective spells with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

The two rivals are now regarded by most observers as the top two coaches in the game, with the last six Premier League titles being won by one or the other.

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Guardiola’s five English top-flight crowns clearly give him the upper hand on that front, with two of those successes coming at Liverpool’s expense on the final day of the 2018-19 and 2021-22 campaigns.

Klopp has landed several punches of his own, however, beating Guardiola upon his arrival in Germany 10 years ago and breaking City’s dominance when Liverpool finally ended their long title drought in 2019-20.

With Liverpool again looking to challenge City after making a promising start to 2023-24, we look back at five of the greatest contests between Guardiola and Klopp.

5. Borussia Dortmund 4-2 Bayern Munich (DFL-Supercup, July 27, 2013)

The very first meeting between teams managed by Guardiola and Klopp, which came in Germany’s annual curtain-raiser in 2013, set the tone for one of the most thrilling rivalries in modern football.

Having lost the Champions League final to Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern in May 2013, Klopp’s Dortmund had a point to prove when they faced their rivals just two months later, with the first piece of silverware of the German season at stake. Looking to consolidate their position as 2012-13 treble winners, Bayern had made waves by enticing Guardiola out of his sabbatical in New York ahead of the 2013-14 campaign.

Playing on home turf at Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund claimed a sixth-minute lead when Marco Reus capitalised on an error from stand-in goalkeeper Tom Starke, but Bayern responded through Arjen Robben’s downward header in the 54th minute.

Within three minutes of levelling, however, Bayern found themselves 3-1 down as future Guardiola favourite Ilkay Gundogan forced a Daniel Van Buyten own goal before extending Dortmund’s lead with a curled finish from the edge of the area.

Robben gave Bayern hope with his second, but Reus clinched a double of his own late on as Dortmund secured the win. Guardiola had a new rival.

4. Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool (Premier League, April 10, 2022)

The 2021-22 season brought the second of two incredible Premier League title races between City and Liverpool, with the Reds staying in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple until late May.

In early April, City welcomed Liverpool to the Etihad with just a single point splitting them at the summit with eight games remaining. Momentum swung one way and then the other as two elite attacking outfits took swipes at one another, but there was to be no winner.

Kevin De Bruyne put City ahead when his long-range strike deflected in off Joel Matip, but Liverpool soon responded through Diogo Jota. Guardiola’s men re-established their advantage when Gabriel Jesus ghosted beyond Trent Alexander-Arnold to score at the far post, but the Reds fought back again as Mohamed Salah played in Sadio Mane to equalise shortly after half-time.

City had the better chances to win it late on, but the result ultimately ended up benefitting them as they edged out Liverpool by a single point on the final day, a dramatic 3-2 win over Aston Villa taking them to 93 points.

Things got worse for Liverpool as they lost the UEFA Champions League final to Real Madrid one week later, then City bettered their FA Cup and EFL Cup double by capturing the treble one year on.

3. Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City (Champions League quarter-finals, April 4, 2018)

Five of the last six Champions League finals have featured either City or Liverpool. It’s somewhat remarkable then, that they have only ever faced off in one tie in Europe’s premier club competition.

While City’s Centurions ran away with the domestic title in 2017-18, Liverpool landed a huge blow on the European front when the teams met in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The unsavoury side of the clubs’ rivalry was seen for perhaps the first time ahead of the first leg, with Liverpool apologising after supporters attacked and damaged City’s team bus outside Anfield.

When the game began in front of a raucous crowd, a ruthless display saw Liverpool race into a 3-0 lead within 31 minutes. It was Klopp’s ‘heavy metal football’ at its best, with the pick of the goals coming when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found the top-left corner from 25 yards out for the second.

Liverpool found themselves under pressure when they went 1-0 down after two minutes of the return leg at the Etihad, only for goals from Salah and Roberto Firmino to put the tie beyond all doubt. The Reds marched on to the final, but came unstuck – not for the last time – against Madrid.

2. Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool (Premier League, January 3, 2019)

All meetings between City and Liverpool seem to take on additional importance, but this clash might have been the biggest of the lot.

Liverpool travelled to the Etihad unbeaten in 20 games to start the 2018-19 Premier League season, sitting seven points clear of City. With the Reds in ominous form, City knew anything but a victory would make them big outsiders in the title race.

City great Sergio Aguero opened the scoring from a narrow angle in the first half, but Firmino’s close-range header levelled things up with 64 minutes gone, setting up a grandstand finish.

Leroy Sane’s low drive gave the three points to City, who had earlier been saved by a brilliant last-ditch clearance from John Stones, preventing the ball from crossing the goal line by just 1.12 centimetres when the game was goalless.

Those were the fine margins which characterised Liverpool’s only defeat of the 2018-19 Premier League season, with a mammoth haul of 97 points not enough to take the trophy as City got over the line on the final day.

1. Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City (Premier League, January 14, 2018)

The 2017-18 season brought City’s most straightforward title success under Guardiola, with records tumbling as his team brought up a century of points, but as far as individual games between these teams go, this one tops the lot.

Playing their first match since selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142million, Liverpool went ahead early on through Oxlade-Chamberlain’s outstanding drive, though City levelled before the break when Sane hammered beyond Loris Karius at his near post.

After the restart, another trademark Liverpool blitz saw them race into a 4-1 lead, with Firmino and Salah both lobbing Ederson either side of Mane’s powerful finish into the top-left corner.

The efforts of Liverpool’s front three were ultimately enough despite goals from Bernardo Silva and Gundogan ensuring a nervy finish, allowing Klopp to exact revenge for the humiliating 5-0 defeat his team suffered at the Etihad at the start of that season.

City would only lose one further game all campaign, while Liverpool’s fourth-placed finish gave Klopp the chance to build a team which would finally reach the summit of English football two years later.

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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