They are rivals on guard, the brains of the managers – and Liverpool v Manchester City feels almost as good as Jürgen Klopp (52) against Pep Guardiola (48).
They meet for the 18th time in six years on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola has been the big name of the coach for the last decade, a tactical genius who has changed football in many ways, including the Premier League after his entry there in 2016.
At the same time, driver Jürgen Klopp has changed Liverpool, and he's bothering Guardiola more than any other coach. No one had beaten Guardiola repeatedly. Klopp leads the inside match 8-7 (two draws).
Klopp answered VG's Qatari question: – Absolutely not right
They often talk about each other nicely, there is great respect for each other, but also some small verbal stabs, like last week. And that should almost be missed. It's kind of part of the game, and after all, the vocabulary is much more cultivated than when locked between Guardiola and Mourinho in Spain, or when Ferguson and Wenger flew each other down the years.
Last weekend Pep Guardiola raised the temperature by several degrees. Maybe he seems a little stressed on the eve of his fifth meeting with Anfield? He has not won yet (three defeats and one draw).
MIn the recent defeat, Manchester City will be nine points behind Liverpool, who have lost only one of their last 50 matches in the series.
It all started when the City manager was interviewed by the BBC after beating Southampton 2-1. He was also asked about his thoughts on the Liverpool goal with a late win against Aston Villa (matches continued at the same time). Sadio Mané nodded off to make the score 2-1 during the four minute extension.
Guardiola praised Liverpool for repeatedly deciding to the end, but then came the words that hung over English football for many days: "Sometimes it is recorded and other times it is possible to score amazing goals at the last minute."
He seemed to be talking about the Sadio Mané attack, though it was not easy to tackle all of Guardiola's words. Criticism came from nowhere, he did not even see the Liverpool match, and Jürgen Klopp still seemed a bit taken aback when he faced the statements Monday afternoon.
He didn't quite understand what Guardiola meant, but with the touch of every word, he stated, "Sadio is not recording."
Guardiola tapes for Mané with the film after the turning operation
On Tuesday, it was the turn on Guardiola to explain. He had no intention of branding Mané, saying, "Jürgen knows him best, and if he says he does (that Mané doesn't record), so be it."
But it's something that has obviously annoyed Guardiola long, at least a month, since Liverpool's victory over Leicester in early October. Deep in overtime, Sadio Mané got a little hooked by Marc Albrighton. The Liverpool striker went very easily.
"It was a punishment and it was a wow and that was the reason for my comment," Guardiola explained. "But for Jürgen it was punishment, for the judge it was punishment, for VAR it was punishment, so I was wrong," he added.
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It was a tricky little retreat. Why did Guardiola withdraw his four-week sentence if his conclusion was that the decision was right and he himself was wrong? Of course, because he still thinks punishment should never come, Sadio Mané is inclined to make a movie and would like everyone else to know that point of view.
The city manager has already achieved his purpose. The message is sent to the judges, whether in the field or in the video room: Mané falls easily. Most people will follow the Senegalese a little more closely.
"I really couldn't believe it (Guardiola said). I don't know if he was talking about Sadio or our team – none of the parts are particularly nice. But I'm not sure if I want to power this any more. I'm not interested in that kind of thing," he was Klopp's first comment.
But then he failed. He had to catch up little, "I promise not to mention tactical free kicks …".
City put pressure on Liverpool – Guardiola dissatisfied
Guardiola has caused other managers, especially Ole Gunnar Solskjær, to accuse City of deliberately executing a free kick when an opponent grabs the ball, so they get an established defense. One stated that Guardiola thought Solskjær said he was influencing the judges, and he was certainly right, but now he is using such tactics himself.
Before the season, Guardiola became angry when Jürgen Klopp suggested that Manchester City live in a "fantasy land", along with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, that they could buy as much as they wanted.
"If the statement bothers me? Yes, of course it is, because it's not true that we spend £ 200m in every window," Guardiola commented sharply.
But there is little doubt that the difference in spending in the years Klopp and Guardiola spent in England is huge. They both had four "transition seasons".
Looking at a preview of the German language transfermarkt.de and taking the purchase / loan costs and deducting the proceeds from the sale / borrowing, used Guardiolas City seven times as much as Klopp's Liverpool: 5.3 billion kronor compared to Liverpool 750 million.
Maybe Guardiola would never do the same thing Klopp did several times, building teams. Maybe Klopp would never do the same thing Guardiola did several times, further developing the teams that are on top.
It is certain that they have both achieved very much where they were. Then we'll see who has the most Sunday nights.
- Sadio Mané received a yellow card this season. He came up against Aston Villa last weekend and that was to make movies.
- Liverpool's only loss in the last 50 matches of the series happened against Manchester City (1-2 at the Etihad in January). At home at Anfield Liverpool have not lost in the series since April 23, 2017 (1-2 for Crystal Palace).
- Since Klopp and Guardiola's internal wins, both have won once after a penalty shootout.
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