Liverpool draw Manchester City in the Champions League Quarterfinals

Liverpool have been drawn to face Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Jürgen Klopp’s side will take on the fellow Premier League club over two legs next month, having progressed to the last eight with a 5-0 aggregate victory over FC Porto.

The first leg of the tie will take place at Anfield on Wednesday April 4, with the return meeting at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday April 10.  Click here to view an updated fixture list.

The teams have met twice already this season in league football, each winning on home soil, with the Reds 4-3 victors over Pep Guardiola’s men in January.

Elsewhere in the draw, FC Barcelona will face AS Roma, Sevilla take on Bayern Munich, and Juventus meet Real Madrid.

Klopp said:

“I’ve said it before and it’s still the truth, it’s always common in a draw that you’ll get your neighbour, more or less, but to be honest I don’t mind, really.

 

“It is exactly like it was before – we take what we’ve got. Now it’s Manchester City, let’s go.

 

“We’ve lost once and we’ve won once against them in the league – and I don’t think they thought before the best draw they could have got is Liverpool. That’s a sign for us and how strong we can be.

 

“We are for sure not the favourites in this round, but in the last eight there are not a lot of favourites – maybe two of them, Bayern and Barcelona – but thank God it’s football and nothing is decided.

 

“We have a few games to play until then, but I am really looking forward to it and we will give it everything.”

Just six days separate the two legs, and Klopp doesn’t feel hosting the first game will make too much difference to the final outcome of the tie.  He said:

“In this case, it’s not too important. For us, it’s completely normal. We can get a result at home for sure, but it’s obviously a difficult game – but good news for both teams.

 

“It is like it should be in the last eight. It was clear we would face a strong team. Now we have Man City. The good thing is they are the team we know most about. It’s not too cool for England because now only one team can go to the semis. But we will try everything.”

Liverpool complete Kolo Toure signing

kolo toure

Liverpool FC confirmed they will sign Manchester City defender Kolo Toure on a free transfer on July 1. A statement in the official site read:

“Liverpool Football Club can today announce they have agreed a deal in principal with Kolo Toure to join the club on July 1.  The powerful defender will be registered as a Reds player when his current deal with Manchester City expires.”

The Ivorian was out of contract with Manchester City, and Liverpool were rumored to be keen on bringing in some much needed experience in the defensive department after the retirement of Jamie Carragher.

Liverpool will offer Toure a two-year deal as they look to make the defender their first signing of the summer.

The 32 year old was a member of Arsenal’s invincibles side that won the league title in 2004 and was a regular for Manchester City in his first two seasons.  Toure certainly is a world class centre back with more than a decade of Premier league experience. However the 32 year old will be used as a second choice defender, someone who can come in and stabilise panic with his experience during the dying moments of the game.

Aguero strike cancels out Gerrard stunner to earn a point

Aguero strike cancels out Gerrard stunner to earn a point

Stunning goals from new signing Sturridge and skipper Steven Gerrard should have been enough to secure a famous victory at the Etihad stadium, but instead the reds had no choice but to settle for a 2-2 draw after an outstanding equalizer from Sergio Aguero. On the 78 minute mark, after Pepe Reina was caught stranded after going for a ball he was never going to get to.

Boss Brendan Rodgers believes his side’s 2-2 draw against Manchester City today has shown that they will be a “real force” in the Premier League and will be a formidable outfit soon:

“It was an outstanding performance at a notoriously difficult place for teams to even score a goal.  I don’t think they’ve conceded here [in 2013].  What was important for me was to see the confidence of the players, the desire, the quality and the efficiency of their game. I don’t think anyone would deny that we probably deserved to win that game.  The disappointing thing was that it typified our season, really, where we’ve been outstanding in our game and the model of our work but mistakes have cost us.  That’s all a part of our growth.”

What does everyone of the performance? Did Liverpool outplay the champions for most of the match? and how about those goals from Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard?

Responsive Prayer: No it’s the church actually

Church Actually

We used this responsive prayer by Krish Kandiah as part of our response to thinking about our local community at our Churches Together service for unity and prayer on Sunday, it worked really well, and maybe worth you keeping for a future occasion:

This was a “call and response” part of my sermon – I asked the questions and the audience replied “No its the church actually!”

Do you know who provides half of the parent and toddler support groups in the UK. Is it Surestart? No, it’s the church actually.

Do you know who provide the biggest network of debt couselling across the UK with 190 drop-in centres? Helping over 19 141 individuals last year alone? Is it Martin “Moneysavingexpert” Lewis? No it’s the church actually.

Who is it that donated 72 million hours of volunteer work to social initiatives last year estimating a contribution of 1.5 billion pounds a year? Was it the National Trust? No it was the church actually.

Do you know who will feed 100 000 hungry people this year in the UK is it the Redcross? No it’s the church actually!

Do you know who brought hospitals, schools, universities and democracy into our country? Was it the Vikings? No, it was the church actually!

Who invented Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Queen’s Park Rangers, Southampton, and Tottenham Hotspur Football clubs, was it the Football association? No it was the church actually!

When the doctors, the police and the social workers move out of an area and go and live somewhere else who is that moves in ? Is it Richard Dawkins and Militant Atheists? No it’s the church actually!

Who is it that is the hope of the world, is it NATO? No, it’s the church actually!

Look how wrong I was over Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola 1

Yesterday I predicted that Pep Guardiola was going to join Man City.  I thought my views were well informed given his recent comments about wanting to manage in England, and having looked at the likely clubs in the Premiership I was pretty pleased with my analysis.

Last night I got home from work to hear that Guardiola is confirmed as Bayern Munich boss –

The former Barcelona coach, who is on a year-long sabbatical in Manhattan after leaving Camp Nou last summer, has agreed a three-year deal with the Bundesliga club and will replace Jupp Heynckes on 1 July.

The Catalan will become the highest-earning manager in the club’s history – it has been mooted that he struck a separate sponsorship deal with Adidas, Bayern’s kit supplier – at around €10m (£8.3m) a year, a figure he might have eclipsed at any of his other suitors, with Chelsea having made their admiration clear last March and in the summer.

Yet Guardiola appears to have been attracted by the similarities between Bayern and Barça, both of whom thrive essentially on bringing players through their youth system and relying on their managers to oversee the first-team set-up, with others charged with recruitment.

The deal with Bayern was signed before Christmas and confirmed on Wednesday.  Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the Bayern Munich CEO said:

“Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful coaches in the world.  We are sure that he can make not just Bayern but all of German football shine. We are very pleased that we have managed to convince someone who was coveted and contacted by many top clubs to come to Bayern.”

Heynckes, who had steered Bayern to a nine-point lead in the Bundesliga at the start of the winter break – in his third spell at the club – had already indicated his intention to retire when his contract expires on 30 June.  Uli Hoeness the Bayern Munich chairman said:

“Only someone of the calibre of coach Pep Guardiola could be considered an adequate replacement for Jupp Heynckes”

Pep Guardiola to join Man City

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola seems to be closer to a decision as he expressed a strong interest coaching in the Premiership after his New York sabbatical is over. He is London attending the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations.  Having done a little bit of reading around it seems most likely that Guardiola will land at Man City for several reasons.

  • Aitor ‘Txiki’ Begiristain is Man City’s recently hired Director of Football was responsible in 2008 for promoting the then unknown Guardiola, the coach of their B team, as Frank Rijkaard’s successor.
  • Man City’s CEO, Ferran Soriano, was Barca’s CFO during Guardiola’s tenure.
  • Mancini has struggled with success in Europe despite spending millions and I can’t see City’s owners continuing with him beyond this season bar a miracle taking place.
  • Man City also have one of the best youth academies in the country, having produced more professionals than any other Premiership side including a number of internationals.  Guardiola is obvious very passionate about youth development having handed Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Jeffren, and Thiago Alcantara their Barcelona debuts after nurturing their careers in the B side.

Chelsea don’t have the reputation for Guardiola – they don’t focus on nurturing and looking after players – instead they are clearly run by the whims of Abramovich as owner, just look at the purchases of Andrey Shevchenko and Fernando Torres, the loss of Didier Drogba, the likely loss of Frank Lampard, and the revolving door that the coaching staff seem to go around.  I see it much more likely that Jose Mourinho and Abramovich repair their relationship and he makes a return to the EPL.

Sir Alex Ferguson is the problem for Guardiola to take on the role at Man Utd.  He isn’t looking like leaving soon unless he has a sudden change of heart or he decides his health is more important which from all his statements seems highly unlikely – and given his high level of success the Glaziers are unlikely to dispatch of Ferguson.

Given Guardiola has a clear preference for the English Premier League I believe that PSG and Bayern Munich are out of the running, which only leaves the dark horse of Arsenal.  He could be brilliant for the club, but I’m not sure the club’s board have got the imagination to walk away from Arsene Wenger and to engage with another brilliant tactician – although this season’s results so far could move this up their agenda.