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.”

Jürgen Klopp “Not Satisfied” with Manchester City rout

Jurgen Klopp

There’s no question that new manager Jürgen Klopp has, in just a month at his new club, changed Liverpool for the better.  After more than a year marked by dull football and some very poor results, the changes wrought by the German in a few short weeks have been nothing short of miraculous.

The best performances and results, recently have come away from Anfield.  Two fantastic results against Chelsea and Manchester City; a tense and well earned three points in difficult conditions in Russia; a promising, pressing first performances against Tottenham.  On the road, Liverpool have looked great.  At home, there’s still work to be done.

Klopp said following Saturday’s victory:

“I would love to win a game like this at Anfield.  That’s our next challenge.  We now play Bordeaux and then Swansea, and at this moment I don’t know enough about Swansea.  If they saw our game against Crystal Palace maybe they will stay with 50 people deep in the space and shoot only long balls.”

The manager is confident that he can come up with solutions, and that by the time Swansea arrive at Anfield he will know how to approach the match:

“We have to find a solution.  And we will have a solution.  But then we have to score goals in the right moments.  On and on.  Development.  We need results like this, we need performances like this, so that we start believing in ourselves.  Now we have more confidence.  Everybody could see it.  We are not satisfied, though.”

Liverpool’s improvement under Klopp has been stunning, and with it continuing against Manchester City following the November international break it’s clear it’s not just a case of the new manager bump.  There are real, tangible improvements on display; a new mode of play and a newfound belief on display.  And there’s still room for improvement.

Let’s see what happens against Swansea this weekend.

Europe’s most expensive football squads revealed

A new study has revealed the most expensive squads across Europe’s top five leagues and one of the eye-catching statistics is the fact Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool squad cost more than German champions and European titans Bayern Munich, according to the Football Observatory. 

The Reds splashed out a hefty amount of money this summer with eight players coming to Anfield in the form of Christian Benteke, Joe Gomez, Nathaniel Clyne and Roberto Firmino.

Meanwhile, Bayern were also busy with Douglas Costa and Arturo Vidal amongst those to come in, but it seems as though the Bavarian giants could do with giving Rodgers some advice on how to conduct shrewd transfer business.

The aforementioned study reveals that Liverpool’s squad costs €344 million – the fourth most expensive in the Premier League – whilst Bayern’s is €337 million – the most in Germany, but seven million less than the Reds.

Football Squads

Meanwhile, the study also confirms – not much of a surprise – that Manchester City have assembled the most expensive squad in England, after bringing in the likes of Raheem Sterling, Nicolas Otamendi and Kevin De Bruyne this summer.

Rafa Benitez will have to cope with severe pressure this season after it was also revealed his squad is nearly €200 million more than rivals Barcelona, whilst the gulf in class is evident in Ligue 1 – Paris Saint-Germain’s closest rivals Monaco have a squad which is nearly €400 million cheaper.

Top 20 most expensive squads in Europe:

1. Real Madrid (€587m)
2. Manchester City (€560m)
3. Manchester United (€533m)
4. Paris Saint-Germain (€525m)
5. Chelsea (€407m)
6. Barcelona (€396m)
7. Liverpool (€344m)
8. Bayern Munich (€337m)
9. Arsenal (€305m)
10. Juventus (€301m)
11. Tottenham Hotspur (€231m)
12. Valencia (€226m)
13. Inter Milan (€212m)
14. Napoli (€185m)
15. Southampton (€182m)
16. Atlético Madrid (€180m)
17. Wolfsburg (€163m)
18. AS Roma (€160m
19. Newcastle United (€157m)
20. AS Monaco (€152m)

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”