In the 2010s, European football lived to the rhythm of the Messi-Ronaldo rivalry, and Clasicos with breathtaking spectacle and exceptional level. Since then, the multiple Ballons d’Or have aged and left the continent, leaving the Spanish championship orphaned. But the flame is not extinguished, and the torch has been taken up by teams at the top of their game, led by charismatic coaches and fantastic players. Liverpool – Manchester City replaced Real Madrid – FC Barcelona. This Sunday the Reds welcome their citizen runner-up (4:45 p.m.) to Anfield in what is already shaping up to be the key moment of the Premier League season. An unmissable shock.

With no visible limits, these two teams have already impressed in the past with title races going beyond 90 points per season. This year, it’s back for a spin, or at least it started the same way. By the strength of their collectives, the Reds and the Sky Blues are still heading towards a battle in which no fault will be allowed. Since their last meeting which ended in a sharing of points (1-1), they have experienced almost the same trajectory. 11 wins and 2 draws for Liverpool, compared to 10 wins and 3 draws for Manchester City, the duo having only lost once each.

Confident in their game, these groups roll over everything that is put in front of them, in all competitions. Klopp’s men won the League Cup against Chelsea (1-0) and secured the Europa League, while Guardiola’s men won the Club World Cup and qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League against in Copenhagen (6-2 on aggregate). This success is largely due to a squad filled to the brim with stars, who are just waiting for one thing: to brawl on Sunday afternoon.

Just like the Clasico, Liverpool-City also have the right to their share of stars, all part of the elite of world football. According to Transfermartk, the combined workforce is valued at a total of €2.128 billion. Not surprising when we pay attention to the individuals present on the lawn. Manchester City will be led by its magician Kévin De Bruyne, preserved in the Champions League against Copenhagen this week, who will be at the service of the “cyborg” Erling Haaland, top scorer in the Premier League, already author of 29 goals this season (TCC). To complete everything, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva will support the offensives, while the untouchable Rodri will do the beautiful but also the dirty work in front of the defense, made up of the giants Ruben Dias, and John Stones. A strong spine complemented by trusted and experienced players, Kyle Walker, Nathan Aké and Ederson in goal. On paper, this eleven has no flaws, especially when we know the quality of its bench.

Opposite, Liverpool are slightly disadvantaged by their avalanche of injuries, depriving Klopp of some of his best elements. Alisson, Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold, will not be available, the only satisfaction is that Mohamed Salah will have returned in time for this weekend. Nevertheless, the Reds are not to be complained with their Virgil Van Dijk – Ibrahima Konaté hinge impassable, in midfield the Argentinian world champion Alexis Mac Allister ensures alongside Dominik Szoboszlai, both recruited for a total of 112M euros . In front, Darwin Nunez shares the poster with Luiz Diaz and Mohamed Salah returning from the infirmary. Even with absentees, this team is scary. Since the announcement of Klopp’s departure, these players seem to have unprecedented confidence, and they will need it to topple the three-time defending champion on Sunday.

Leader with a small point ahead of their Mancunian runner-up, Liverpool must not once again miss their chance. The two teams have played the same number of matches, and with around ten days remaining, Van Dijk’s partners are first with 63 points against 62 for City. Since 2016 and the arrival of Pep Guardiola in England, the Sky Blues have taken 5 of the 7 championships at stake during this same period, including the last three, leaving only crumbs to their opponents. The Reds had their moment of glory in 2020, winning the first title in their history since the introduction of the Premier League in 1992. But apart from that, nothing. Twice (in 2019 and 2022), they saw the trophy slip away by just 1 point. This year, they are the ones who have this short lead, which we will have to keep at all costs, so as not to end the Klopp era with another heartbreak.

These same two years, the final decision came down to very little. A millimeter-precise save on the line from John Stones in a City-Liverpool in January 2019, an improbable comeback launched by Ilkay Gundogan on the last day against Aston Villa (2-0 half-time, final score 3-2). In the end, the result is the same every time, and Arsenal paid the price last year, finishing second in a season where they monopolized the top of the table. We must not make a mistake again for Liverpool, otherwise the sky blue domination will not stop.

And who better to beat Guardiola than Klopp? The one who has the greatest number of victories over the Catalan tactician. Sunday at Anfield, it will be their 30th meeting, almost completely balanced, since the record stands at 12 victories for Klopp, 11 for Guardiola for 6 draws. For years, the two offered us a show of the highest level, with such a particular contrast in style. On the one hand, the Guardiolian game matured from his visits to Spain then to Germany, made of possession and total control of the ball. On the other, the very energetic and hardworking Kloppian machine, which presses when it loses the ball and which bites in transition. Even if their respective styles evolve and become more and more similar, these two formations always manage to offer exceptional sequences of play.

After announcing his surprise departure from the club at the end of the season, Liverpool players were motivated to offer an unforgettable farewell to their coach. Retirement, not retirement, Jürgen Klopp’s future is uncertain. But what is more certain is that this is undoubtedly the last clash between the two tacticians in the English championship. This last dance therefore promises to be epic, more than a simple duel for the title, it is the heritage of the German which is at stake, he who is so appreciated by the football world.

For this great occasion, there is no doubt that the legendary Anfield venue has a special atmosphere in store for its coach. On a Sunday afternoon at 4:45 p.m., all these families, parents and children will come together one last time to admire the best that Klopp and Guardiola have to give them. All under the tune of “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, it couldn’t be more English. It’s for these kinds of moments that we love football. For 90 minutes, the “Kopites” dressed in red will wholeheartedly push their heroes, with their tireless “Allez Allez Allez”, which will become seconds of silence when the ball approaches the net, then explosions of joy once time they will tremble.

The decor is just perfect, the actors are ready, the directors too, all you have to do is enjoy the show. For some of the fans, this match is arguably even more important than it is for those who will play it. It is at the dawn of this type of event that we realize that Bill Shankly was right: “Some people think that football is a question of life and death, I assure you that it is much more important than that.”