Sunday 16 December 2018

Klopp: City draw is a bus journey - not what we wanted

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. Photo: PA

Chris Bascombe

The Champions League draw delivered the tie neither Manchester City nor Liverpool wanted as they were paired in the quarter-finals.

There was no disguising the sense of anticlimax at both clubs as Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and City's director of football Txiki Begiristain admitted they would have preferred overseas trips.

Klopp joked it was a "dream draw for Manchester United fans" - suggesting only historic rivals of the two clubs could be satisfied now one of them would be eliminated.

Nevertheless, the meetings on April 4 and 10 - the first leg will be at Anfield - promise to be thrilling, given the respective style of the teams and approach of their charismatic managers. Pep Guardiola's champions-elect beat 10-man Liverpool at the Etihad this season but suffered their only league defeat at Anfield in January.

Few anticipate defensive affairs. "The good thing is, we know more about City than we could know about any other team we could have faced," said Klopp. "From our point of view, we played one and a quarter really good games until we were a man down. City knows that as well. It is not that they thought we want to have Liverpool, so that is all good. One thing is sure, it will be two very intense games.

"When you think about the draw and you get the team around the corner where you can go by bus, you don't want it. They didn't want us. Our record is not too bad against City. We are not the team they love to play constantly."

Begiristain recognised the "strength and power" of Liverpool. "It's a very difficult one," he said. "We like to travel and to go to another country in the Champions League. We know each other very well, they are a very offensive team, the truth is it is going to be a great couple of games and we are going to see good football."

Klopp revealed he had already exchanged texts with Ilkay Gundogan, his former player at Borussia Dortmund who is now at City. "He said in German 'bisbald', which pretty much means 'see you soon' and I used a Scouse phrase, 'see yer'," said Klopp.

Liverpool lost to Chelsea the last time they reached the quarter-finals, in 2009. A series of epic encounters bred hostility between the clubs - especially Rafa Benitez and Jose Mourinho - and Klopp is aware how animosity can be fuelled when familiar foes meet with so much at stake.

"I don't really think Pep and myself have a relationship," said Klopp. "Especially from my point of view. I have respect - I think that is normal if you are a football manager when you see his teams playing and the work he did in the last few years.

"We don't know each other really well so it is not like the relationship I have with David Wagner (Huddersfield manager).That is a friendship and it is not like that. We cannot lose anything."

Klopp's main gripe following the draw is a change to the fixture list, which means the Merseyside derby will now be played on April 7 at 12.30pm. City play the Manchester derby at 5.30pm the same day.

"We play at 7.45 on Wednesday night and 12.30 on Saturday. The other team [City] plays at 5.30. Can you imagine how big the difference is in these five hours? It means the world in preparation and recovery, said Klopp" (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Quarter-final draw

Barcelona v Roma, Sevilla v Bayern Munich (1st leg April 3, 2nd leg April 11).

Juventus v Real Madrid, Liverpool v Manchester City (1st leg April 4, 2nd leg April 10 )

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport