Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola promised to stick by his playing style by attacking Liverpool in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday, despite admitting he is playing into the hands of his opponent.
Liverpool are the only side to have defeated the runaway leaders City in the Premier League this season in a 4-3 thriller at Anfield in January.
The hosts’ fearsome front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were all on target that day as part of their combined tally of 75 goals this season.
However, Guardiola’s bold brand of attacking football has been accompanied by success everywhere he has gone in a stellar coaching career from Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now at City.
And he believes that is the best way for City to reach just their second ever Champions League semi-final, but the eighth in his nine seasons as a top-flight coach.
“I know the way we play is perfect for Liverpool because they are a team that attack the space unlike any other team in the world, especially Mane, Salah, Firmino, they are so good,” said Guardiola on Tuesday.
“But I feel the best way to win is the way we try to do since we were here.”
No opposing manager has beaten Guardiola more times than Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. In 12 previous meetings, Klopp has six wins to Guardiola’s five.
Klopp was keen to play down the significance of that record, but Guardiola hailed their shared spirit to entertain.
“Both teams try to play. We are the teams that scored the most goals in Premier League this season by far,” added Guardiola.
“I think Jurgen Klopp teams are honest teams that respect what football means. They try to attack and of course we are going to try to (do the same). I’m sure tomorrow is going to be a good game.”
City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne described the sides’ January meeting as a “crazy game” that was “beautiful for the neutral”.