Pep Guardiola credits Jürgen Klopp’s rivalry with making him a better coach

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Pep Guardiola believes his rivalry with Jürgen Klopp has helped him become a better manager and has said the Liverpool manager is ‘the reason I’m still in this business’ as Manchester City prepare to face the leaders of the league at Anfield.

Guardiola will face Klopp for the 22nd time on Sunday – meaning only José Mourinho has faced the Catalan on several occasions. Guardiola’s Bayern Munich lost 4-2 to Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund when they first met in June 2013 in the German Supercup final and both have nine wins apiece. Klopp has not seen his Liverpool side beat City since winning 3-1 at Anfield in November 2019 en route to their first league title in 30 years.

Guardiola attributed the influence of the German on his own development. “He helped me, his teams helped me to be a better manager,” he said. “He gave me another level to think about it, to prove myself, what I have to do to be a better manager with our teams to try to beat them. This is the reason why I am still in this profession.

“There are managers, Jürgen is one, to challenge you to take a step forward… here we have many years, many competitions together. Every game was fun, both teams have the same idea, scoring goals in different ways; faster than us but in the same way to win the matches.

Two goals from Ilkay Gündogan in a resounding 4-1 win ended City’s 18-year wait for an Anfield win last season, although the German midfielder and Oleksandr Zinchenko remain out for the clash on Sunday and are expected to return after the international break. Liverpool have only conceded once at home in the league, in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea, but Guardiola doesn’t expect his players to be intimidated by the presence of supporters.

“I’m sure the players like playing with the fans at Anfield more than without,” he said. “We haven’t won at Anfield, I don’t know the reasons, the last four, five years [before last year] because it is an exceptional team. The crowd helps, as in Paris, but it happens in the big stadiums: in Germany in Dortmund, or at Atlético Madrid. It happens, not much for the bullying but the quality of the opponent. We play our game with or without spectators.

The 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the middle of the week was City’s first since the surprising loss to Tottenham on Matchday 1 and halted their momentum after the brilliant victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. But Guardiola insisted he was “happier than ever” with his team despite the inability to add a recognized striker.


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“We are doing it that way or we are not able to do it,” he said. “Attack the space and the objective a lot more with more people. We don’t have a striker who smells like that when the ball is around the box and is still there. We have to do it throughout the game, with a lot of people involved, to score goals. “

Guardiola added: “The way we played the last two games, I’m so happy with what we did. The level and the way we played is so good. That’s why I’m happier than ever because it’s so difficult. We still have a lot of details but we are still there after six years. That’s why I’m so proud, I always tell them, “I can’t express any words for my gratitude and the way we played these two games. “

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