Klopp, Guardiola, praise each other to the high heavens ahead of Man City’s clash with Liverpool
Well, it appears that for all their qualities, both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola failed the ‘Managerial Rivalry’ module when taking their coaching badges.
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Unlike the 90s and early 2000s, when the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, and later on, Jose Mourinho, would goad and taunt their rivals in press conferences so mercilessly that even Chris Rock would blush, Manchester City’s Guardiola and Liverpool boss Klopp have maintained a respectful – almost reverential – relationship with each other.
Nary a pepperoni has been thrown, let alone a slice of pizza, whenever these two teams meet, despite the fact that they have been going head-to-head for the English Premier League (EPL) title over the last few years.
Both Guardiola and Klopp had also previously butted heads in the German Bundesliga, when the former was helming Bayern Munich, and the latter in charge of Borussia Dortmund.
But far from harbouring any dislike for each other, the two seem to genuinely enjoy the competition, and are more often than not unabashed to tell the world of their respect and admiration for the other.
Ahead of their top-of-the-table clash on Sunday evening (SGT), Klopp once again went big with his praise for his Spanish counterpart, as he hailed the former Barcelona boss as the numero uno of football managers.
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“Pep is the best coach in the world,” Klopp declared. “I think we would all agree on that and it might be a coincidence that it didn't work out in the Champions League so far. If anybody doubts him, I have no idea how that could happen.”
Klopp added that the only way to beat City was to put out a ‘perfect’ display, as he said: “You need to defend on your absolute highest level. There's no system in the world which can defend them as a system. But you can cause City problems if you have a good idea, good plan, good system and then top, top world-class players. That helps.”
Indeed, Klopp believes that Liverpool would not have been as dominant in recent years were it not for City, and vice versa.
WATCH: Klopp looking forward to crunch clash against Man City
“In sport, what helps the most is having a strong opponent. In the long term, especially, that helps you the most,” Klopp mused. “I'm sure (Rafa) Nadal and (Roger) Federer helped each other a lot. I'm not sure it would've been the case had they not had each other to compete against.
“I wouldn't say it's helpful [having City as a title rival], but it hasn't denied our development. "I don't worry about the mentality of my boys. We've learned over the years to be in the game but after the match with Benfica they were aware it was now 'City time', and we will be prepared. We both played on Tuesday so we've had enough time to prepare for the game and recover. Let's go.”
As is befitting of their budding bromance, Guardiola also complimented Klopp, and said that the German has heeded the wise words of Michael Jackson and made this world a better place.
WATCH: Man City and Liverpool's modern day rivalry
“Jurgen makes world football a better place to live. His message, a huge competitor. It's good. I try to have a good relation with all the manager,” gushed Klopp.
“I learned it's better not to have a relation with the others. He knows, we spoke together in Germany, the message and the way his teams play. He's a good guy and I don't have any problems with him.
“I admire what they (Liverpool) do, how good they are. I enjoy this challenge. When I retire and watch and play golf I will remember the biggest rivalry was Liverpool.”