Jürgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola. The charismatic giant-killer and the enigmatic tinkerer. The latest episode of the great managerial rivalry in modern football continues as Guardiola’s Manchester City venture to the top of the Premier League table to take on Klopp’s Liverpool.
With six points between the first place Reds and the visiting Citizens in the standings, the atmosphere in run up to what is the match of the season to date has been tense as the two managers have traded sly digs and backhanded compliments in the bid to gain that key psychological edge.
Klopp sought to ease the mounting pressure in comments yesterday, cautioning on getting too carried away in the moment:
”We constantly get asked questions and sometimes we say what is, in that second, in our mind without thinking about anything else, that we are in public, that there is a camera,” said the German.
”I couldn’t have more respect for Pep Guardiola, that’s how it is. I’ve known him for so long, for me still it’s a big thing to be his contender.
”For me he’s the best manager in the world and we have the chance to win against his team which is very difficult but possible. That’s enough for me.”
While Klopp has long held the edge over his rival dating back to their time facing off in the Bundesliga, a draw and a loss to City in two matches last campaign leaves their head-to-head record finely poised at seven wins each with two draws in the 16 games.
On this occasion, a win for Klopp’s Reds will widen their lead at the top of the table to an imposing nine points, while victory for the Guardiola’s second place city would close the gap to a mere three points and throw the title race back open.
”For me, it’s a 100% want-to-win game - 100% with all I have,” Klopp continued. “We want to win and we try everything to make that happen, which is difficult enough. And then after that we will see how the situation is and use that situation.
”But it’s a big one, we know that. The whole world will be watching that game. I would 100%, everybody I know will, so it’s a massive one.”