Wednesday 17 July 2019

Emotion is very positive, let's show that - Klopp

Liverpool boss insists there's no personal animosity against Bayern despite German giants' player raids during his time at Dortmund

Main Mané: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaks with striker Sadio Mané at training yesterday. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
Main Mané: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaks with striker Sadio Mané at training yesterday. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Chris Bascombe

Whenever Jurgen Klopp faces Bayern Munich, there is an inescapable sense of what might have been.

The club's decision to overlook Klopp for the manager's job in 2008 has been well documented, even more so in the build-up to tonight's Champions League first leg at Anfield.

"I was not angry," Klopp, who was in charge of Mainz at the time, recalled.

"I never expected they would go for me. I was a second division manager in Germany."

Uli Hoeness, the Bayern president, has been less forthcoming on recent interest in Liverpool's manager.

There were strong suggestions a year ago - never confirmed or denied - that Bayern wanted Klopp to replace Jupp Heynckes in time for the start of this season.

It would be more shocking if the Bundesliga champions had not investigated the possibility of appointing their country's most coveted coach - before turning to Niko Kovac.

The history between the Liverpool manager and Bayern - powered by Klopp's triumphant era at Borussia Dortmund - adds a layer to the last-16 fixture.

Despite the rivalry, there has only been warmth and mutual respect between the clubs, not animosity.

Since the draw, there have been plenty of Bayern tributes to their opponents, members of the squad even dressing up as The Beatles and sounding like tourists heading to a shrine.

Going mad

"A couple of people called me in the last few days to tell me Germany, or football Germany, is going mad over this game," said Klopp.

"I don't see it as a personal thing. There was never any negative thing for Bayern, but when we played each other and when they bought our players (at Dortmund), how can I be happy and say 'yes, great idea?'

"That was not nice for us, but it is part of the business and it was a long time ago. I was never able to be angry for a long time. In these moments I was not happy.

"It is two big clubs facing each other and I am really happy to be part of this game."

Klopp's demeanour has shifted from his early UEFA briefings as Liverpool manager, when he was always bullish about his team's chances, but generally deferential when facing teams with more European experience. Not now.

Klopp dismisses any suggestion Bayern are not what they were, but he is more inclined to emphasise the capabilities of his side and Anfield's influence.

"It is a game you want to see and maybe that is the biggest achievement for my team so far - we are back not only in the competition, but people think we could win it," he said.

"We don't underestimate ourselves. We are a competitive side and in our stadium, with our people, we are a proper force.

"In Germany, they described us as the most emotional club in the world. So, emotion is very positive, let's show that."

There are problems for Liverpool. Dejan Lovren is not expected to recover from a hamstring issue and Virgil van Dijk is suspended.

Fabinho is in line to deputise at centre-back. Striker Roberto Firmino also provided a late scare, missing training yesterday with a virus.

Unlike last season's run to the final, Liverpool have dual priorities this season.

They dropped 10 league points during the knockout stages a year ago. A similarly scant return would end their title bid, which is why time was spent at a training camp in Spain last week ensuring the players' focus is not compromised by midweek exertion.

Bayern's directors may look enviously at Liverpool's technical area before the game. Liverpool's will be hoping they have more reason to lament after the tie, Klopp reiterating he is far from completing his Anfield adventure.

"The story so far is a nice one, but it's not finished yet," he added. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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