Liverpool and Manchester City will face each other in a match fit to be the final as they meet in the League Cup round of 16 on Thursday. Both teams will be raring to go after the World Cup break and this will give them a good chance to test things out before returning to Premier League play where neither can afford to drop points. Playing on Thursday and Monday, there is plenty of time for Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp to play their starters with recovery in between.Mohamed Salah and Erling Haaland in particular will be ready after neither attacking star was present at the World Cup. Guardiola did offer a word of caution for expectations saying, “I have players from the World Cup who are in a better condition than [those who didn’t go].”While teams did play friendlies, athletes are creatures of habit so the routines of playing regularly, especially with a compressed schedule, may take some time to sink back in. Due to that, this could play more like a high-level preseason friendly where teams are slow to start the match but work into things as time goes on.Here’s our storylines, how you can watch the match and more:How to watch and oddsDate: Thursday, Dec. 22 | Time: 3 p.m. ETLocation: Etihad Stadium — Manchester, EnglandTV: None | Live stream: ESPN+Odds: Manchester City -103; Draw +255; Liverpool +245 (via Caesars Sportsbook) StorylinesManchester City: With a clean bill of health, City’s biggest focus outside of winning the match will be player integration. As Guardiola feels that World Cup participants are in a better condition, they’ll likely make up the core of the lineup while supplementing spots with players like Haaland who weren’t in Qatar. While there are slight minute concerns for World Cup participants, it’s important to note that England doesn’t have a winter break so the match volume isn’t that abnormal for the Premier League contingent compared to other big five leagues. They will be without World Cup champions Julian Alvarez of Argentina, as he remains in his native country celebrating glory. Liverpool: Injury wise, there are no new absences for Liverpool but the injuries that they do have are significant ones. Luis Diaz, Arthur Melo, Diogo Jota, and Curtis Jones will all be out through the new year with only Jones having a chance of returning before February. It remains to be seen how certain players who were in the World Cup knockout stages will factor in, if at all. PredictionStarting slowly this match will open into a back-and-forth affair that suits Manchester City in what will be a wild affair. Pick: Manchester City 3, Liverpool 2.