English Premiership

Klopp full of praise for Guardiola

2016-12-30 10:16
Pep Guardiola (Getty Images)

Cape Town - Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has heaped praise on his Manchester City counterpart, Pep Guardiola, ahead of the EPL clash between the two sides on New Year's Eve.

Guardiola took over the reins at the Etihad after hugely successfully spells in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but has found life in England somewhat tougher than what he experienced in Spain and Germany.

Prior to this weekend's clash at Anfield, City are in third place in the Premier League, one point behind the Reds and seven adrift of leaders Chelsea.

Speaking to the media ahead of the match, Klopp applauded Guardiola for not taking the easy option and for testing himself in an unfamiliar environment.

"He came here with open eyes. He could have had easier jobs in easier leagues, that is for sure," said Klopp. "He could have gone everywhere. He wanted to come here. He was probably aware 100 per cent of the big challenge.

"He knew he had a wonderful squad at Barcelona and a wonderful squad at Bayern but he had big influence on the way they played football. If you go to Barcelona as a new manager they will tell you: 'By the way, don't forget, we play like Pep Guardiola played.' That's the biggest influence you can have. Bayern loved the years he was there. He is a fantastic manager.

"Johan Cruyff started total football, but Pep made it perfect. He's an outstanding manager, 100 per cent. He's very influential. But the Barcelona style is not possible for each team you play. If a Sunday league team tries to play like Barcelona, they will find it difficult."

While in charge of Borussia Dortmund, Klopp faced Guardiola's Bayern on eight occasions, with both sides winning four times, although the Bavarians did win the Bundesliga in each of the Spaniard's three seasons there.

Although Guardiola's commitment to a possession-based strategy has remained unchanged throughout his managerial career, Klopp knows his rival is far more tactically adept than what he gets credit for.

"Yes they (Bayern) changed their style of play against us a few times," Klopp continued. "A clear philosophy does not mean that you stick to it in each moment. If you have to adapt to your opponent then that is what we all do.

"The style of the game isn't everything, it is kind of important but in the end you only want to get your players looking forward with the ball. How you do it is not important. It is not about having 20 passes. If you have to play a long ball that is good and fighting for a second ball is good too. Then you want to have influence with the ball.

"It is not a big difference between the ideas, but when you look from the outside there is an image that Pep is kind of possession and I am counter-pressing. For me it is not important, I don't need names for things. We play the football we think makes sense and Pep does the same with his team and his ideas.

"I never thought too much about the ideas of other managers - only until before the game when we played them."

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