The pre-quarters of the Champions League between Liverpool and Bayern Munich will be the opportunity for Jurgen Klopp to challenge the Bavarians, his former great rivals at the time of Borussia Dortmund.
“There is nothing personal”. And yet, whatever Jurgen Klopp says, the German technician is at the heart of the explosive duel that is preparing to engage Liverpool and Bayern Munich in the first knockout round of the Champions League. Two giants of European football who each have five Champions League titles. Klopp has not yet won any, and for that cause, blame Real Madrid last year, executioner of his Reds in the final in Kiev (1-3), and also Bayern in 2013 (1-2). The worst memory, of his coaching career. “I never saw it again (this final), it was too painful,” he admitted last year to the media.
Final lost in 2013 against Bayern with Dortmund
At that time, Klopp, who had almost signed for Bayern Munich a few years earlier – an agreement was made in 2008 but the Munich leaders finally opted for Jurgen Klinsmann – was the heyday of Borussia Dortmund (from 2008 to 2015). He invested the Bavarian rival with two German league titles gleaned in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup won dazzlingly at the expense of Bayern (5-2) in 2012. The Wembley final lost from the magic of Arjen Robben in the last moments 89th, it was a major turning point for Klopp and Dortmund. It was a gaping wound that was difficult to close which indeed added the flight for the talents.
Mario Gotze was the first in 2013 to leave Dortmund for the enemy. Following year it was Robert Lewandowski, who in particular raved about his former coach. “He revealed to me the instinct of the scorer who allowed me to cross a course,” said the Polish striker in an interview with the UEFA website. “I did not know that I had such potential. He saw something in me that I did not see in myself. He made me aware of that. If I’m here today, it’s largely thanks to him. As a man and as a coach, he is simply extraordinary.” The departure of Mats Hummels in 2016, increased a little more antagonism between these two German stars, and at the same time, affected Klopp’s record against Bayern.
“There was never anything bad against Bayern, but when we played them or they bought our players, I was not going to be happy and say ‘good idea, I’ll go with them’,” he explained at a press conference. “It was not nice for us, but it’s part of football. I was not happy then, but it’s been a long time now.”
No spirit of revenge, then. But a firm desire to prove that the final of last year was not a performance without a future, neither an anomaly. And this term, Liverpool will have to do without his control tower in defense, Virgil van Dijk, suspended.
“We are again seen as serious contenders. That’s not enough of course, but it’s a big step, Being in the last 16 and especially knowing that people think we can beat Bayern, it’s great.”
The story is beautiful but it is not finished, the tumultuous one he has with Bayern…
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