Premier League

Liverpool are the perfect yin to Man City's yang

Jack Gallagher
Man City and Liverpool are playing out classics
Man City and Liverpool are playing out classics / Michael Regan/GettyImages
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'Styles make fights.'

You'll have heard that phrase about a 100 trillion times if you've ever watched professional boxing or MMA on television.

It's a phrase with a pretty simple, and obvious, meaning: If boxers or mixed martial artists preferred fighting style complements their opponent's style, then you expect a bloody great night of entertainment.

That's what we got when the brawler Deontay Wilder faced off against the more technical Tyson Fury last year, when the brawler Joe Frazier fought the more technical Muhammed Ali in the 70s, and when the brawler Roberto Duran went toe-to-toe with the more technical Sugar Ray Leonard in 1980.

It was an odd antithetical chemistry which brought out the best in each of these fighters during their rivalries, and made each and every one of the bouts stone-cold classics. And it's a lack of that which makes fights like Tyson Fury and the equally technically gifted Oleksandr Usyk less appealing as, on paper, that clash of styles just doesn't work (but that's an article for another day on another website).

Thankfully we have the former each time Manchester City and Liverpool go head to head, and thankfully that's what we got in the game billed 'THE BIGGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT SPORTING EVENT IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND' on Sunday afternoon.

Sure it didn't live up to that billing (what could?), but we did get a rather extraordinary 90 minutes of entertainment broadcast from the Etihad Stadium.

Inside the opening 15 minutes the game had already paid some dividends on the hype.

In that quarter of an hour alone there were countless goalmouth incidents, great feats of goalkeeping, and two goals, leaving the millions watching worldwide wondering when they would ever be able to catch their breath.

It turned out they wouldn't be able to until the full-time whistle as the franticness of the encounter continued thereafter, with momentum to-ing and fro-ing between the two best football teams in the world throughout.

The game would eventually finish 2-2 - Man City taking the lead on two occasions only to be pegged back by a spirited Liverpool team - making it the fourth of their last five encounters to end with 4+ goals scored.

The reason for the consistency of the entertainment when Liverpool and City face off isn't just that they're the two best teams in the world right now. Obviously that helps (of course it does), but similarly great teams have faced off in the past and played out absolute stinkers; a prime, and very recent, example being Man City's Champions League final clash with Chelsea last year.

What's really makes these matches so great is that aforementioned styles clash.

Liverpool are the proverbial brawlers, quickly trying to knockout their opponents with quick transitions up the pitch, getting the ball to their star men Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane as fast as the can. This is what they did to score both their goals on Sunday.

Man City, on the other hand, are the technical team, who take their time and smother opposition with slow possession based football, luring teams into traps in and around the penalty area. And yes this is what they did to score both their goal on Sunday too.

It's these polar opposite styles, and an unwillingness to change up their tactics to face off against one another, which make these brilliant games possible - with both teams vying for the front foot and pressing each other an intensity and quality not seen anywhere else in world football.

And while everyone has scoffed at the idea of Liverpool and Man City being a 'rivalry' over the last week, it's hard to argue that when two teams are this good and going head to head for league titles, European trophies, etc., that it's not some sort of rivalry.

Sure it's not a local rivalry, and there's no history of a rivalry between the two teams, but at the very least It's the best vs the best colliding, armed with two perfectly antithetical game plans.

It's hard not to love that.

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