Jurgen Klopp may have the most unique skill in world football management: being able to beat Pep Guardiola’s sides.
We saw it at brief moments in his Borussia Dortmund days and especially in the thrilling encounters between Liverpool and Manchester City in the second half of last season. Liverpool’s specific counter pressing game disrupts Guardiola’s sides in a way that causes problems other teams don’t.
Of course there is absolutely no guarantee that this trend will continue. For all we know, we could be in for something similar to City’s 5-0 victory at the Etihad early in last season. What we can expect, though, is a Liverpool side as well prepared as Klopp can possibly make them.
“People ask me what is my secret against Pep Guardiola but there is no secret”, The Telegraph report Klopp as saying. “They have a good squad together and very good players. But if my players don’t fulfil the plan we have, there would be no chance.
“But, yes, I love these games, but I love them most after the game when we have won. So, hopefully, I will still love the game Sunday night”.
On the man he will be facing, Klopp stated that Guardiola is “the best manager in the world, no doubt about that. People said he has always had better teams than I had, but I would not even compare myself with him. I see his teams playing and I know that is really exceptional. I see what he did in different teams. Yes, he had better teams, that is true, more experienced – Bayern, Barcelona – we don’t have to talk about that. The target for us is to come closer”.
And it really does feel like we are starting to come closer. There is no doubt this City side is exceptional, but Liverpool have improved consistently from both Klopp’s coaching and strong recruitment. Perhaps the “secret” to beating City is to build a damn good team, and that is exactly what Liverpool are doing.