After a devastating performance in the first leg, Liverpool are within touching distance of a spot in the Champions League semifinals. Looking at the pattern of success in Jürgen Klopp's career so far, more is due.
In his first season in the Champions League with Liverpool, Jürgen Klopp has the chance to lead the club to their first semifinal in the competition in a decade. With one of the most devastating attacks in football and an increasingly stable defense, Liverpool are starting to look like a team with Klopp's fingerprints all over them. They lead Manchester City 3-0 going into the second leg but, for many, this tie remains the only one of the four midweek matches that could still spring a surprise.
There's no denying that Klopp has made Liverpool better - as he has done with every team he has coached. Gradually they finish higher up the table, or go further in cup competitions. But there's concern that Klopp's self-proclaimed "heavy-metal" football has too strong a downside and that City, who boast an equally potent attack, are capable of swinging the tie back in their favor in just 90 minutes.
While it's no secret that Klopp's style is one straddling the line between great risk and great reward, the 50-year-old is a smarter coach than before. He has learned along the way, and the devastating performance in the first leg was perhaps the greatest piece of evidence to prove it.
Development starting to bear fruit
All of which has been made possible by the gradual development of this Liverpool team. It might have taken him two and a half years, but Klopp has made Liverpool into a formidable force. And he is fast approaching the time where his work starts to transfer into the kind of tangible success the industry demands.
Three years after taking over at Dortmund, he won the Bundesliga. He defended the title the following season and the year after that he led Dortmund agonizingly close to Champions League glory. At Liverpool, Klopp went to the Europa League final in his first season in charge. Now he has guided Liverpool to the brink of the top four in Europe's premier club competition.
His record against Pep Guardiola makes for good reading, and although he won't have the special Anfield atmosphere of the first leg behind him on Tuesday night, he does come into the game having not lost a local derby. After a painful 3-2 defeat that saw them leading 2-0 at one point, Manchester City and Pep Guardiola cannot say the same. In fact, the only thing Klopp perhaps not in his favor is the injury list - Emre Can, Mo Salah and Andy Robertson are all touch-and-go.
It will take one more dazzling display to get Liverpool into the semifinals. But Klopp and Liverpool look to be approaching their peak years together, this ride doesn't feel anything like over yet.