No matter the occasion. Cup finals are always special.While City may have crashed out of the FA Cup a weekend ago, they find themselves at the new Wembley Stadium taking on a familiar foe in Liverpool. Both sides were successful during their respective European efforts, City winning at Dynamo Kiev and Liverpool topping Augsburg. The win on Wednesday was City's first in three matches, and considering a dip in form was clearly an issue for the club, it may have been what the team needed to get back into rhythm.
This isn't new territory for either side. City most recently hoisted the Cup in 2014 against Sunderland, while the last time Liverpool were at Wembley was in 2012 for the "old" Carling Cup, where they defeated Cardiff on penalties.
Liverpool and City have found themselves in similar positions this season. A myriad of injuries coupled with inconsistencies have left both clubs in situations that they may have avoided otherwise. In November Liverpool did dispose of City rather easily with a 4-1 romp at the Etihad, but since then, the Reds have been up and down domestically. Daniel Sturridge, Phillipe Coutinho and Roberto Firminho are all healthy and playing together for the first time since the season began, and the three pose a considerable threat on a vulnerable City back line.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp will be faced with the task of attempting to duplicate his "Gegenpress" style against the Citizens without the luxury of a true defensive midfielder to shield his center backs. He's recently tinkered with Lucas Leiva at the center half position to make up for Skrtel's absence, and the Brazilian will have his hands full with Sergio Aguero.
Manuel Pellegrini is hoping to cement his legacy at the club with as many opportunities for silverware as he can, and it's fair to say his players would like to win as much as they can for him. Manchester City also see themselves with players returning from the injury list as Mangala, Navas, and Bony are all available for the Cup Final. A key matchup will be on the wings with Raheem Sterling and Nathaniel Clyne square up on the left side of the pitch. Pellegrini has utilized the partnership of Fernando and Fernandinho for a few matches now and are now reaping the benefits as the Brazilian duo shield any movement that occurs in the space in front of Vincent Kompany and Otamendi. Aside from the FA Cup shellacking against Chelsea that featured second, third, and fourth option players, City's defense has been considerably more confident since the Captains return from calf issues. Substitute keeper Wily Caballero is most likely in between the posts for this game, something that could most definitely be an issue, so it will be a must that the center halves keep as many opportunities away from the box as possible.
This Cup Final may be meaningless to many, but it's an opportunity for both sides to finish the final third of the season on a strong note. City are currently in fourth place in a league title race that is shaping up to be one for the ages, and Liverpool are not out of a European spot just yet. It's a moment that either squad could use for morale and as a shot in the arm for this year's campaign.