Jürgen Klopp – Pep Guardiola, the last battle in the Premier League


By: Manu Tournoux

“He has been our biggest rival, Liverpool, over these years here, and with Dortmund he has been my biggest rival. We’re going to miss him, I’m going to miss him.” Despite the great rivalry between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, and between Liverpool and Manchester City, Pep Guardiola is rave about Jürgen Klopp. When approaching this decisive meeting for the title between Liverpool and Manchester City this Sunday in the Premier League, it is difficult to miss this other match, opposing two of the greatest technicians of the 21st century, for what is the last between the two in the Premier League following the announcement of Klopp’s departure. If the two men are likely to meet again on the benches in the future, Jürgen Klopp has announced that he will not return to the bench in England, out of respect for Liverpool.

Both men show a lot of respect towards each other, symbolizing the healthy and competitive rivalry between Klopp and Guardiola. “Our families met, someone who has such a good family is obviously a good person”, Klopp said about Guardiola. Between disillusionment and joy, trophies and failures, the two men have fought battles that were always more intense than each other, for 11 years now.

In total, the two men faced each other 29 times before Sunday’s meeting, for a very balanced record. The German technician has won 12 matches, one more than his Spanish counterpart (11), and six draws in all competitions. Pep Guardiola is also the coach he has challenged the most times during his long career. Beyond the statistics, meetings between the two men have often been the scene of title battles and extremely close encounters.

To illustrate this rivalry, it is essential to discuss this 38th day of the Premier League during the 2021/2022 season. At the dawn of the day, Manchester City had an advantage, but in the event of a misstep, the Reds were crowned, especially because they won their last match. And they were close to the goal, as Aston Villa led 0-2 until the 76th minute of the match against the Skyblues. But thanks to a comeback, the latter won this match (3-2) to finally lift the champion trophy. One example among many of title struggles with more than 90 points each (2018/2019, 2021/2022) and memorable matches.

A clash of styles

In the Premier League as in the Bundesliga and even in the Champions League, a meeting between Jürgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola was a spectacle not to be missed. Tough matches with a history favorable to the German coach (seven victories and three defeats for Klopp in knockout matches). This means that the former FC Barcelona coach often had difficulty confronting Klopp, and vice versa, as the styles of the two coaches were so different.

Renowned for his possession play and slow build-up, Pep Guardiola had to deal with fast transition play and “Gegenpressing” (counter-pressing) from Jürgen Klopp’s players. The departure of the latter will allow his rival to be more serene in the future. “I’m going to sleep better”, quipped the Spaniard in reaction to Klopp’s departure. This rivalry took over – successfully – from that between Arsène Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson in the 2000s, and is now doomed to disappear for a while. The end of an era in England…

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