Jürgen Klopp: ‘Liverpool made me better’ as Champions League tie looms

Bayern and Dortmund hope to impress Klopp – which could see the Bayern coach making a return to the German capital Jürgen Klopp has admitted he is happy he has chosen Liverpool because it’s…

Jürgen Klopp: ‘Liverpool made me better’ as Champions League tie looms

Bayern and Dortmund hope to impress Klopp – which could see the Bayern coach making a return to the German capital

Jürgen Klopp has admitted he is happy he has chosen Liverpool because it’s “made me better” and said Liverpool would “present a challenge” to Bayern Munich when the teams meet at Anfield in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The two clubs meet in the first leg on Thursday in what is shaping up to be an enthralling tie. With both Liverpool and Bayern having lost in the semi-finals last season, having made the knockout stages this time they understand the importance of overcoming that hurdle.

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José Mourinho added “Brutal. Not very respectful” to the description given by Pep Guardiola last year when he noted Pep Guardiola’s confidence in his side’s ability to rout Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the 2016-17 semi-final. Klopp himself enjoyed a more philosophical approach but is now clear that he wants Liverpool to succeed to keep himself and the manager in charge of Bayern at bay.

“I can say that now, after I was here for three years,” Klopp said. “We got as far as you [Guardiola] got but it’s not the same situation anymore. Everyone knows that when we played here we weren’t the best team but we were better than you.

“After a couple of years we had to fight again to improve. We had to improve, a lot of people. I became better as a manager. I didn’t become a manager for better than you. I wasn’t able to make you better but I was able to make myself better.

“In the long term I think what is positive for this club is what I have said for a few years: that we wanted to be here and that if we are lucky enough to be here we would present a challenge. I had the best four years of my career in Liverpool and things would be different if it wasn’t for that.

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“I got to learn a lot in Liverpool. Here we were surrounded by younger players who could not really afford to learn but I was able to do it. It’s like I said: better to get here than not get here. I have no story to tell of how I got here. Everything is the same now. I went to training here. I do the same things as I did there. I am happy. I am lucky to be here.”

Bayern have a fresh alternative with the appointment of Niko Kovac as their new manager following last week’s dismissal of Niko Kovac. Jürgen Klopp also stressed that Bayern cannot simply recruit for the sake of it.

“There are only three points for the victory. That’s the only thing,” he said. “The only thing in life that has no consequence. The only reason I would not stop is because I’m winning. My biggest problem is not with the players who are at their clubs, it’s with the ones who aren’t at their clubs who are waiting for the news. It’s like a feeling when you’re not in the first flight to Dubai. People want you there, they don’t want you in Dubai. For me, winning is very important. Winning is not some average thing.

“I think Bayern Munich needs an emotional connection with the fans. If you look at the fans in Dortmund, and how they take charge of the pitch, it’s the main thing. We have been here before and the door is open. Maybe we can convince you with our behaviour, then come back later on. But they cannot just pick someone from one round of the finals of the Champions League. If we win the competition it is because of our squad of players and my philosophy on how we play.”

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Klopp said: “We will create good football and more than Bayern we will defend well, because we have enough quality. I have confidence in my team to create chances. What I don’t think about it is the result. Not that I need it. But I am not so sure as you about that.”

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