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Pep vs Klopp: A storied rivalry

There is much history between the two Premier League coaches as their teams Manchester City and Liverpool battle for the league title.

Jennifer Bubel

Manchester City and Liverpool battle for the Premier League title down to the final day. City hold a one-point lead over Liverpool and are on track to win the title for the fourth time in five seasons.

Manchester City only have to beat Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium to win the title. They have won against Villa eight times in a row and are undefeated in 12 games against them. The current Villa team is good, but City are the favorites. They would also still win the title with a tie if Liverpool loses or ties their game against Wolves.

The two coaches of Liverpool and Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, have a storied rivalry that began in the Bundesliga and heated up even more in the Premier League. The two met eight times in the German soccer, including four league clashes and three finals.

Klopp left Borussia Dortmund at the end of the 2014-2015 season but Guardiola stayed in Bavaria another year. It didn’t take long for the two coaches to meet again. They have now met in the Premier League 11 times since 2016.

“I could say nearly everything about how Pep played with Bayern, but that is not important anymore because now he is at Man City,” said Klopp. “Different players and different things to do, different systems.”

Guardiola and Klopp have always had a mutual respect for one another and continuously praise each other’s tactics and accomplishments.

“He put me on another level in terms of thinking, to prove myself, in what I have to do to be a better manager with our teams to try to beat them,” said Guardiola of Klopp. “That is the reason why I am still in this business.”

Between 2017-18 and 2019-20, the Premier League winners each won 32 games - prior to that run, no team had ever won more than 30. In these three seasons, the league winners averaged at least 2.58 points per game - no team had ever exceeded 2.5 points per game before that. This is just the second time in Premier League history when two sides have had 89+ points after their opening 37 games.

“We pushed each other on insane levels in the last few years,” said Klopp. “One of the most difficult games you can play in the modern football world, away at City. We’ve felt that plenty of times. It’s a really strong football team with an outstanding manager.”

“Maybe he’s the best manager in the world,” said Guardiola, “to create a team attacking the back four.”


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