The curtain has fallen on the 2022 World Cup, but there’s a blockbuster fixture just around the corner.
Manchester City and Liverpool’s Round of 16 Carabao Cup tie – live on talkSPORT – is set to be a tasty one, as last season’s Premier League title rivals go head-to-head for the second time this season.
The sides – who went toe to toe until the final day for the Premier League trophy in 2021/22 – last met in October, with the Reds sealing a 1-0 win at Anfield.
Liverpool talisman Mohamed Salah netted the winner that day, but it’s all to play for this time.
Man City are currently second in the Premier League, 10 points ahead of the Reds in the league and will be keen to regain their bragging rights.
But the Carabao Cup coming round just four days after the World Cup final means both sides are likely to have a different line-up to usual.
Pep Guardiola has recently bemoaned the decision to play the fixtures so soon after Qatar 2022. Meanwhile, Liverpool will be looking to win it for the second year in a row.
So how are Guardiola and rival boss Jurgen Klopp’s sides likely to look at the Etihad?
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Man City team news
With 16 players away at the World Cup – the most of any side – Man City have played just one friendly since the Premier League paused at the end of November.
They beat Spanish club Girona 2-0, with goals from Erling Haaland – who didn’t compete in at Qatar 2022 due to Norway not qualifying – and Kevin De Bruyne, who had returned to the UK after Belgium’s group stage exit.
Guardiola made eight changes from the side that played in the 2-1 loss to Brentford before the break.
Haaland led the line, whilst Riyad Mahrez and youngster Morgan Rogers came in for World Cup stars Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden.
Ilkay Gundogan, Sergio Gomez and Cole Palmer also featured, but the rest of the line-up were Man City’s academy graduates.
Nathan Ake, Aymeric Laporte and Rodri were expected to return to training this week and should therefore be involved versus Liverpool, whilst those who also returned recently that played less minutes – like Jack Grealish – should feature too.
Predicted Man City XI
Liverpool team news
Man City had superstar striker Haaland resting during Qatar 2022, but Liverpool also had a number of first XI players staying home.
The Reds played in the Dubai Super Cup over the break, facing Lyon and AC Milan.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino – both absent from the World Cup – started both games, so will be a shoo-in to start against Man City.
It’s likely Darwin Nunez will fill the final space in the front three, with the Uruguay star returning from international duty after the group stages and featuring against AC Milan.
England defender Trent Alexander-Arnold may come back in at right-back given his lack of minutes in Qatar, joined by his fellow full-back Andy Robertson.
Meanwhile, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are likely to make up the centre-back pairing, instead of Virgil van Dijk.
Caoimhín Kelleher – who stepped in for his side’s friendlies and also played in the 2022 Carabao Cup final win – could also come in for first choice goalkeeper and Brazil star Alisson who returned to training this week.
Predicted Liverpool XI
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