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“When I play golf in retirement I will remember that my biggest rival was Liverpool”


Pep Guardiola says his rivalry with Jurgen Klopp will be the most intense of his managerial career as Manchester City and Liverpool prepare to clash in a huge Premier League title showdown.

The City boss regularly faced Jose Mourinho when they were managers of Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, but says he will remember Klopp as the man who gave him the biggest challenges.

Features of Rex

Klopp and Guardiola often exchange compliments and respect each other enormously

“For the last five years they have been the biggest opponent,” Guardiola said ahead of City’s highly anticipated clash with their title rivals at the Etihad Stadum on Sunday.

“They’ve been an amazing, wonderful candidate, with some good games. I admire Liverpool and the way they do it, but I like the challenge.

“Jurgen, as a manager, has been the biggest rival I’ve ever had in my career and I think what both teams offer is good for football.

“The point is not a jibe to Jose. He’s an exciting manager and I was his rival, but I’ve been here for five years and played against Liverpool several times.

“Except the year we made 100 points, the rest was tight. It’s because they are good and hopefully they think we are too.

“I will remember my time here, when I retire watching and playing golf, I will remember that my biggest rival was Liverpool, for sure.”

“When I play golf in retirement I will remember that my biggest rival was Liverpool”

GETTY

The footballing world will have their eyes on the Etihad on Sunday afternoon


Despite the huge rivalry between Man City and Liverpool, the two managers respect each other.

Speaking at his press conference on Friday, Klopp hailed Guardiola as the best manager in the world.

Guardiola replied: “I didn’t become a coach to be the best. I’m not.

“Thank you very much, but I’m not. I’d like to say I’m the best, but I’m not.

He added: “I would say amazing things about my team. My team is the best. I like to admit that my players are exceptional.

“When I play golf in retirement I will remember that my biggest rival was Liverpool”

Getty

Guardiola had a huge rivalry with Mourinho, especially in El Clasico games, but City boss says Klopp is a bigger rival

The result of the match could give a strong indicator in which hands the Premier League trophy will fall this season.

But neither Klopp nor Guardiola subscribe to the idea that it would be a winner take all.

On whether this weekend’s clash will decide the title, Guardiola said: “I don’t know.

“When I play golf in retirement I will remember that my biggest rival was Liverpool”

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Liverpool and Man City played out a 2-2 draw at Anfield earlier this season and it promises to be another classic

“It will be three extremely important points but (there will be) still seven games. Important? Of course it is.

Klopp added: “If we win we’re two points clear and if everyone thinks that’s it, done and dusted off, then I can’t help them.

“If we lose we’re four points behind and if someone thinks that’s it I can’t change it, but I know no one from Man City will think of it like that, and a draw, we are one point behind.”

The rivalry between Guardiola and Klopp dates back almost a decade to 2013, when the Spaniard was poorly received by his counterpart upon arriving in Germany.

“When I play golf in retirement I will remember that my biggest rival was Liverpool”

Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp go back a long way

The first competitive game of Guardiola’s stint as Bayern Munich manager saw his side beaten 4-2 by Borussia Dortmund to win the German Super Cup, with Klopp making a first statement.

Dortmund would beat Bayern again in the following year’s edition, but by then Guardiola were dominating the league and the cup, nullifying Dortmund’s title chances and ending Klopp’s time there.

What Guardiola failed to realize was that he had given his last rival a head start, with Klopp arriving at Liverpool nine months before Guardiola joined City.

“When I play golf in retirement I will remember that my biggest rival was Liverpool”

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Guardiola put the resurgence of Dortmund’s Bundesliga win in the rearview mirror

It allowed the Reds boss to begin an overhaul of a dreadful squad, setting up chapter two of the Guardiola vs Klopp rivalry in time for the 2018/19 season.

The pair have faced each other 22 times in total and are currently tied on eight wins apiece, with the next win perhaps the most crucial of them all.

Guardiola has won 10 of his 32 England honors, ahead of Klopp’s five with Liverpool, but much to City’s chagrin, Klopp’s tally includes a European Cup.

Guardiola and Klopp trophies

“When I play golf in retirement I will remember that my biggest rival was Liverpool”

Jurgen Klopp’s trophy includes:

Mainz 05
Promotion to Bundesliga: 2003–04

Borussia Dortmund
Bundesliga: 2010–11, 2011–12
DFB Cup: 2011–12
DFL Supercup: 2013, 2014

liverpool
Premier League: 2019-2020
EFL Cup: 2021–22
UEFA Champions League: 2018–19
UEFA Super Cup: 2019
FIFA Club World Cup: 2019

Pep Guardiola’s trophy counts:

Barcelona B
Tercera Division: 2007–08

Barcelona
La Liga: 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11
King’s Cup: 2008–09, 2011–12
Spanish Super Cup: 2009, 2010, 2011
UEFA Champions League: 2008–09, 2010–11
UEFA Super Cup: 2009, 2011
FIFA Club World Cup: 2009, 2011

Bayern Munich
Bundesliga: 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16
DFB Cup: 2013–14, 2015–16
UEFA Super Cup: 2013
FIFA Club World Cup: 2013

Manchester City
Premier League: 2017-18, 2018-19, 2020-21
FA Cup: 2018–19
EFL Cup: 2017–18, 2018–19, 2019–20, 2020–21
FA Community Shield: 2018, 2019

The duo will collide once more after Sunday’s Premier League epic, facing the FA Cup, and there’s even potential for a Champions League final encounter on May 28.

This week certainly isn’t the first time the two have been at the center of a debate over who’s better, but by June the row could well be over.

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