First, the teams meet on Sunday in the Premier League at the Etihad, in a match that is likely to decide England’s next champion. They will face each other again next Saturday, this time at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final. Both games could well be a prelude to a third, more historic encounter in all: Liverpool and City are the favorites to reach the Champions League final on May 28 in Paris.
The parallel with those 18 days in Spain is of course not perfect. Manchester City and Liverpool have fueled a fierce rivalry in recent years, but it lacks the depth and context of the clásico. Its tendrils do not stretch back decades, nor is it connected with questions of politics and history and, in particular, national identity.
Likewise, Guardiola and Klopp do not have the same combustible chemistry as Guardiola and Mourinho. It would go a long way to say they are friends, but almost ten years after they first met in Germany, they remain cordial. In 2020, Guardiola called Klopp in the wee hours of the morning to congratulate him on winning the Premier League. Klopp describes Guardiola as: the best coach in the world at every opportunity.
However, many of the other ingredients are present. As with Real Madrid and Barcelona, everything revolves around matches between these two clubs. One of these teams wins the Premier League. One of them will go into the FA Cup final as a heavy favorite. Only Bayern Munich can be considered a peer in the Champions League.
Both coaches have done what they could to negate the idea, but both are seen as chasing multiples of glory: City, a domestic and European treble, last achieved by an English team in 1999; and Liverpool, an unprecedented and in reality improbable run of all four trophies available to them. Their encounters, in that light, are the whole ball game.