Erling Haaland may miss Manchester City’s match against Liverpool because of an injury he received while serving for his country. After the international break, City’s injury list now includes six more players, perhaps reducing their number of available outfield players to just 12. Haaland’s injury to his groin last season prevented him from playing against Liverpool, so this wouldn’t be the first time City has played the Reds without their best player. Julian Alvarez led the line in the match, and Pep Guardiola made a tactical change to the midfield “box” shape to win 4-1.
With nine players potentially out due to injuries, City is concerned going into their encounter against Liverpool. With Ederson’s withdrawal from international competition, the team is now down to around 14 senior players. While Haaland’s injury condition is unknown, some players could be well by next Saturday. Guardiola has a history of modifying his game plan in response to the players who are available, as he showed while playing Liverpool without Haaland.
Finding a good midfield alternative to complement Alvarez and preserve defensive stability against Liverpool will be the key priority in Haaland’s absence. The withdrawal of Rodri from Spain’s match against Cyprus raises questions regarding the availability of important central midfield players. Rico Lewis and Bernardo Silva might be Guardiola’s starting midfield duo, with Manu Akanji perhaps filling in at center back. Although Kalvin Phillips is available, he has less experience playing against Liverpool in crucial matches than defensive midfield options.
Since Alvarez has performed very well at number ten this season, Phil Foden taking over might jeopardize the sustainability of using the “box” concept. The power and expertise of the prior configuration with Stones, Rodri, De Bruyne, and Gundogan is absent from this substitute, however. Liverpool, who have improved since the previous year, will probably take advantage of City’s injury worries. The visitors will be keen to earn three points and maintain their early-season championship hopes, despite City’s impressive home record versus Liverpool.
With players still available, City’s job is to put together a competitive squad, hoping that some absences are administrative rather than mandated. Mateo Kovacic is apparently out for two to three weeks, although the return of players like Rodri, Matheus Nunes, or Kovacic might improve alternatives. Stones’s participation would be beneficial should he get fitter. In order to defeat Liverpool, Guardiola—who is renowned for modifying his tactics according to player availability—will need to come up with a plan, just as he did when playing without Haaland in earlier meetings.
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