Manchester City’s Etihad clash with Liverpool not only stands as the most eagerly-awaited match of the season, it also serves up several fascinating sub-plots – not least the latest match-up between rival managers Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp.
The attacking brand of football orchestrated by the pair’s teams has garnered widespread praise and admiration this season.
It’s a mouth-watering prospect that, keeping the musical flavour alive, pits Pep Guardiola’s very own Rhapsody in Blue against Jurgen Klopp’s Heavy Metal-flavoured football.
In many ways it could be argued that the two teams which will lock horns tonight are the very embodiment of the respective managers’ philosophical approach as to how football should be played.
After a hugely successful career as a cultured midfielder with Barcelona, Pep of course has gone onto enjoy remarkable success as a manager in three different countries with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now City.
Since embarking on his managerial career a decade ago, Guardiola’s commitment to attacking, artistic football has helped elevate him into the pantheon of football’s truly great managers.
A staggering array of silverware would be cause enough for praise. But it’s the manner of the way Guardiola has achieved that success which has been so eye-catching and admirable
The plethora of trophies has been achieved courtesy of a bewitching, beautiful brand of football that has garnered worldwide admiration for Guardiola’s commitment to marrying aesthetic artistry with sumptuous, attacking football.
READ: City v Liverpool | KDB injury latest
It has borne bountiful fruit, not least in last season’s historic, record-breaking campaign that saw City become the first team in Premier League history to break the 100-point barrier as we rewrote countless number of records along the way.
Still striving for success on four fronts this season, City go into the first game of 2019 with everything to play for – so what better way to usher in the New Year than a mouth-watering match-up with the league leaders?
For his part, Guardiola has made no secret of his admiration for his Liverpool counterpart.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the game, Pep said of Klopp: “He is an incredible manager and I have a good relationship with him.
“His team always play good. I don’t play against Jurgen, it’s our teams. In general, OK, if he beats me then I congratulate him and move forward.”
Have you seen...
The Merseysiders’ high-energy, high-octane brand of football as overseen by Klopp has proved a potent cocktail so far this term, with Liverpool going into tonight’s fixture seven points clear at the top of the table.
The signing of goalkeeper Allison and central defender Virgin van Dijk has enabled the Anfield side to add a steely defensive sheen to their formidable high-pressing game and impressive strike force featuring Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Klopp and Guardiola share a fascinating back-story with the pair having first met in Germany where Klopp carved out a formidable reputation during his seven years in charge at Borussia Dortmund.
The 51-year-old established himself as one of Europe’s most progressive and innovative coaches in that time, guided the club to two Bundesliga titles, one German Cup and three German Super Cups.
In addition, he also led Dortmund to the final of the 2013 Champions League – a feat he repeated last season with Liverpool.
Both in the Bundesliga and more latterly in the Premier League, Klopp and Guardiola have regularly locked horns with the pair each enjoying their fair share of joy.
Now the two managers and their teams are centre stage once more for what promises to be another memorable and fascinating encounter.