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Jurgen Klopp vs Pep Guardiola: An engrossing rivalry like no other

Jurgen Klopp vs Pep Guardiola: An engrossing rivalry like no other

Jurgen Klopp emphasized that his long-standing competition with Pep Guardiola isn't a rivalry but rather acknowledges Guardiola as the most exceptional manager he's encountered. As Klopp readied for his final Premier League encounter against Guardiola's Manchester City as Liverpool's manager, he highlighted Guardiola's prowess.

"I just got told I have a positive record against Pep... I have no clue how that happened to be honest," he said.

"It made me a better manager trying to find solutions. I know I’m quite good at what I’m doing as well, I don’t want to sound like, 'Oh my God, I’m just happy to be here', but you ask me about the best: he’s the best.

Klopp added: "Pep is the best manager in the world. I have a really good life, not even close to that. I don’t know how I could judge managers from the past but in my lifetime he’s the outstanding manager. I see excellence when I face it and Pep is definitely that.

Klopp said on Friday. "We are both pretty competitive, we both want to win football games and we both are blessed with having really good players in our teams and that's it pretty much. But it's not a rivalry

"We definitely, if we meet in the future, will be full of respect. But I think I said often now how much we respect him and we would've a lot to talk about definitely.

"So that's all fine, but on Sunday, it's not about me having that opportunity last time [to face him] because maybe in the FA Cup or the next round we could meet again, but it's just, I don't know who's playing this weekend in other leagues in the world but it's probably the game of the weekend.

Guardiola has repeatedly described Klopp’s Liverpool as the biggest challenge of his coaching career, having edged them to the Premier League title by a single point on two occasions.

“I have this feeling that he’s leaving part of us at Man City, too, as Liverpool have been our biggest rival in his years. He will be missed. Personally, I will miss him,” Guardiola said at the announcement of Klopp’s departure in January. “But I am pleased because without him I will sleep a little bit better the night before we play against Liverpool.”

"I respect completely his decision," Guardiola told a news conference on Friday.

“I think the Premier League are going to miss him – the charisma, the personality and especially the way his teams play.” he added.

"I spoke with him and had the feeling he would be back later. He loves football. His passion is still there. He explained perfectly the reason why. So in the Premier League it is the last time [we meet], but maybe in the FA Cup we can find another. We will see.”

Klopp's impending departure from Liverpool, announced in January after nearly nine years at the helm, adds significance to the match. A victory against City on Sunday could propel Liverpool four points ahead of the reigning champions, enhancing Klopp's aspirations for a second Premier League title at Anfield.

Since joining Liverpool in October 2015, Klopp has secured seven significant titles, including triumphs in the Premier League and Champions League. In contrast, Guardiola, who arrived at Manchester City in the summer of 2016, has claimed 14 major trophies, securing every prestigious accolade at least once. From a tactical perspective, both managers have had a significant influence on English football.

In particular, Guardiola has played a significant role in redefining the game and inspiring others to have faith in technical football players who can play out of the back and combine with many playmakers. Take a look at England's midfield during the 2018 World Cup. Gareth Southgate's audacity in starting Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard as No. 8s was undoubtedly influenced, at least in part, by Guardiola's demonstration of the viability of "free No. 8s" in a three-man midfield. Jordan Henderson, Southgate's holding player in that system, has just recently begun to fill that role at Liverpool under Klopp.

Ibrahima Konate may not be able to play for Liverpool following his injury sustained during their thrilling 5-1 Europa League victory over Sparta Prague on Thursday. This implies that, in addition to Virgil van Dijk, youthful Jarell Quansah may start his most significant match to date. Mo Salah, who recovered from an injury late in Thursday night's crushing victory away, might also make a comeback.

It is difficult to lay too much weight on such pre-match sparring because, in the end, the manager of the team that wins on the pitch will always be seen to have won the mind games.

If nothing else, these remarks highlighted the differences between Klopp and Guardiola, which have contributed to the intrigue of their rivalry over the years. These elements will also be present in Sunday's historic match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield, which will serve as the match's finale.

Al Noman

Al Noman


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