Eleven games, said Barney Ronay in The Observer: perform well in them and Liverpool could achieve footballing immortality. Winning the “quadruple” – all four major trophies in a single season – is a feat no English club has achieved, and which some say is all but impossible given the relentlessness of the modern game. But Liverpool undoubtedly are in with a shot, all the more so after making the FA Cup final with their 3-2 defeat of Manchester City last Saturday. Jürgen Klopp’s team have already won the Carabao Cup, are in the semi-finals of the Champions League, and are very much in contention in the Premier League, where they are in a tight battle with Manchester City. Winning the quadruple “will take luck, brilliance and plenty more luck” – apart from anything else, it depends on City dropping points in at least one of their remaining Premier League matches – but it’s looking more and more doable with each passing game.
Liverpool’s victory over City on Saturday – and their 4-0 thrashing of Manchester United in midweek – certainly suggests they are peaking at the right time, said Sam Wallace in The Sunday Telegraph. In a first half at Wembley, which Klopp described as the best 45 minutes of his Anfield tenure, the Reds were simply unstoppable: they put three goals past Pep Guardiola’s side, including two from Sadio Mané. Even though City scored right after the interval, a comeback never looked on the cards – until Bernardo Silva “finally made it a Cup tie” by scoring in the 91st minute.
Highly impressive as Liverpool were, it would be a mistake to read too much into this victory, said Oliver Holt in the Daily Mail. In truth, the match “was over before it began” – thanks to several key City players being injured (including the irreplaceable Kevin De Bruyne) and the whole team being “emotionally and physically exhausted” by their exertions against Atlético Madrid in the Champions League last week. With a squad that lacks the depth of Liverpool’s, Guardiola seems to have “narrowed” his focus this season to trying to win both the Premier and Champions leagues.
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Not long ago, it was a consensus among football experts that no other contemporary coach “could hold a candle to Guardiola”, said Oliver Brown in The Daily Telegraph. As Klopp continues to work wonders at Anfield, that is being revised. The German has now beaten the Catalan ten times, and while he has won far less silverware in his career overall, he arguably has a superior ability to forge close emotional bonds with the clubs he manages. “At 54, Klopp has presided over three clubs” – Mainz, Dortmund and Liverpool – and has “attained the status of a demigod at every one”. No wonder, then, that in the ongoing debate about “two managers of generational brilliance”, Klopp is arguably “now edging in front”.
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