Andy Robertson insists Liverpool have no reason to be afraid as they head into their hugely-anticipated Champions League quarter-final with Manchester City.
The Merseysiders host the runaway Premier League leaders in the first leg of the glamour tie at Anfield tonight.
City, who will be without the injured Sergio Aguero, are 16 points clear at the top of the Premier League and on the brink of being crowned champions, but their only loss in a magnificent campaign came at Anfield in January.
Scotland left-back Robertson said: “I don’t think we can be afraid. They won’t be afraid of us and we won’t be afraid of them. They’ve been the best team in our league this season and are going to win the league, undoubtedly, but this is two games in the Champions League, a one-off.
“We have as much right to be in the quarter-finals as they do and there is no seeding in it. It will be a big occasion.
“Their movement is a joy to watch at times, and as a defender you need to be aware of that, but hopefully we’ll be attacking as well and we can push them back into areas where they don’t want to go.”
Liverpool were at their most exhilarating when the teams met in January, scoring three goals in nine blistering second-half minutes to power into a 4-1 lead.
City did pull two goals back late on but it was still a fine display by the Reds and a warning to Pep Guardiola’s side.
Robertson said: “That was probably our most complete performance of the season. The last ten minutes were a bit shakier than we wanted but we pressed them all over the field and we took our chances when they came to us at key moments.
“That was the key and that will be the key [tonight]. When chances fall to us we need to be able to take them. Hopefully more chances will fall to us and we’re clinical up top. If we can do that hopefully we’ve got a win going into next week.”
Liverpool’s defensive resources will be stretched this evening after a thigh injury ended Joel Matip’s season. With Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez also sidelined, manager Jurgen Klopp’s only available senior centre-backs are Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk.
Adam Lallana’s hamstring injury sustained at Crystal Palace on Saturday will keep him out for several weeks while fellow midfielder Emre Can is unlikely to recover from a back problem in time. Aguero, meanwhile, will again be missing for City. The Argentine striker, who has scored 30 goals this season, has been out for the last three weeks with a knee injury. It was initially thought the 29-year-old’s problem was not too serious but his continued absence suggests he is also doubtful for the Premier League leaders’ derby clash with Manchester United on Saturday.
Guardiola said: “He is in Manchester. He did not come. He was injured in the last two to three weeks and is still not fit. He is much better but doctors spoke to him today and he said he still has a little bit of a problem and is not comfortable.”
Asked about Aguero’s fitness for the derby – when a victory would see City secure the Premier League title – Guardiola said: “We’ll see.”
Aguero’s absence means Gabriel Jesus is likely to continue up front. The Brazilian, who turned 21 yesterday, is still to get back to his best after a spell out with a knee injury in January and February but Guardiola has no concerns.
He said: “Today Gabriel Jesus is 21 years old and when you are 21 years old you are not tired.”