Get a complimentary subscription to Miguel Delaney’s newsletter, Reading the Game, delivered directly to your email.
Subscribe to the free weekly newsletter from Miguel Delaney.
Jurgen Klopp positioned himself as the ideological antithesis of his adversary for the critical upcoming game on Saturday. The two have been matched up against each other for ten years, with a total of 28 encounters spanning various competitions such as the German Super Cup, Community Shield, FA Cup, Carabao Cup, German Cup, Bundesliga, Premier League, and Champions League. They will be stationed in adjacent technical areas at Etihad Stadium this Saturday as Manchester City welcomes Liverpool, and they also currently stand next to each other in the league standings. Klopp expressed his eagerness to watch the game from wherever he may be on the globe.
However, he is once again facing the man he considers to be the top in his field. “I have expressed this many times before, but he is truly the greatest manager in the world,” he stated.
He is open to acknowledging that Guardiola has influenced him, but he differentiates himself from his rival by drawing a comparison between them.
He stated that defense is a crucial aspect of the game and his philosophy begins there, while his opponent’s may end there.
Guardiola may have a different opinion on this matter, as pressing holds great significance for him. As Klopp acknowledged: “We haven’t discussed it in depth as we are not that familiar with each other.”
But Klopp’s blueprint against Guardiola involves defending; which, in turn, is the basis of his attacking. Gegenpressing, after all, is his best playmaker.
“I enjoy getting ready for a match when the other team desires possession of the ball because it allows for the chance to make something happen,” he stated.
His strategy to defeat Guardiola has revolved around destructive changes.
This is a unique achievement that has not been replicated by anyone else with consistency. Out of all the managers who have faced Guardiola at least eight times, only one has won more than he has lost. That manager is Klopp, who has faced Guardiola the most times. Klopp’s 12 wins have been in both Germany and England, but they share certain similarities.
Klopp’s teams do not prioritize ball possession and do not actively seek to control the ball. However, they also do not completely relinquish possession. After their victory over Manchester City with only 20% possession, Klopp explained that this is a rare occurrence and requires precise execution in counterattacks.
Liverpool had possession of the ball for 37% of the time during their 1-0 win at Anfield last season, 32% during their 2-1 Champions League victory at the Etihad Stadium, and 36% during their 2018 4-3 triumph at Anfield.
Klopp’s teams must have strong defensive skills, but the results suggest that the games have not been focused on defense. This could be attributed to the high level of attacking talent on the field. In these 28 matches, a total of 93 goals have been scored, averaging 3.32 per game.
Despite Klopp’s teams winning more games with a score of 12 to 11, they have also conceded more goals, with 48 against 45. This is evident in past results of 5-0, 4-0, 4-1, and 4-1, where Manchester City has proven to be unstoppable. Klopp believes that if his team can make it difficult for City, they have a chance of winning. However, if City is allowed to play comfortably, no team stands a chance against them.
Perhaps, there is no one who has caused Guardiola more discomfort than Klopp. Some of the non-traditional choices, which have resulted in criticism that the Spanish coach overthinks, have been made against Liverpool: Laporte has been deployed as a left-back at Anfield, Gundogan as a pseudo-right-winger, and Grealish as a deceptive striker, none with notable success.
Klopp, however, stated that it will be challenging for Guardiola to catch him off guard.
“We all have a tendency to be predictable, so it’s not like we have a secret plan up our sleeves,” he stated. “In football, the field dimensions are consistent and it’s incredibly fascinating.”
He is aware that City desires possession of the ball and knows their preferred areas. The difficulty lies in maintaining focus and structure, deciding when to attempt to regain possession, and determining if Liverpool can successfully counterattack.
“He mentioned that it all comes down to the amount of space we allow them on the field. They have a strong desire to play and are the only team with four players in defense, including the goalkeeper. They don’t just stick to their own goal area, but also push up a bit. If we can find a solution for that, they will adjust and fall back.”
Klopp appears to be the chaotic one while Guardiola is often seen as the controlling figure. However, in a surprising twist, Klopp portrayed himself as the organizer and defensive mastermind, while Guardiola took on the role of a passionate and energetic manager.
“I’m not certain how much of our personalities we need to explore in order to truly understand ourselves,” he stated. “Even at 56, I’m still unsure of my own identity. But Pep is definitely the type of person who gets upset with his players if they don’t want the ball. I share that quality to some extent. Personally, I enjoy organizing things to gain an advantage, and that aspect is ingrained in my personality.”
Over time, his character has prepared him for the seemingly daunting challenge of confronting Guardiola.
The original source for this content can be found on the Independent website.
This content can be found on the Independent website as the original source.