Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp has praised Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola as the world’s best coach, while both Premier League rivals prepare for Sunday’s clash at Anfield.
Leading the competition, Liverpool holds a six-point lead over the reigning champions, making the match crucial for both teams.
The mood has been warmed up for the match by Guardiola’s statement that Liverpool’s Sadio Mane threw himself into the pool (an expression used in sports jargon when a player pretends to have received a foul, usually inside the opponent’s area), but then the Catalan coach recanted.
Klopp, who for his part had criticized City’s “tactical fouls” to cut the game, put an end to the verbal combat on Thursday in an interview with Sky Sports television.
“We are constantly asked questions and sometimes we say what happens to us at that moment in our minds 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 the way it is. I’ve known him for a long time, it’s still important for me to be his opponent”.
“For me, he is the best coach in the world and we have the opportunity to win against his team, which is very difficult but possible. That’s enough for me.
Klopp dismissed the suggestion that Liverpool could not afford to lose the match.
“For me, it’s a 100% match to win, with everything we have,” he said. “We want to win and we will try everything we can to make that happen, which is quite difficult. And then we’ll see what the situation is and we’ll use that situation.”
“But it’s important, we know. Everyone will be watching the game, I would watch it 100%, everyone I know will see it, so it will be a significant game.
Champions League champions Liverpool lost to Manchester City last season after a goalless draw at Anfield and finished runners-up in the Premier League just one point behind their rivals.
“City’s performance last year was probably the biggest show of respect I’ve ever had, that one of my teams had because they play differently than they usually do,” Klopp said.
“I expect a close match. I don’t know exactly how it will be”.