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Jurgen Klopp's all-time XI

Jurgen Klopp has coached some of the finest players of this generation
Jurgen Klopp has coached some of the finest players of this generation
ANALYST
Modified 07 Nov 2020, 17:31 IST
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Jurgen Klopp is considered one of the most astute tacticians in the modern game. He may not have the trophy haul of a Pep Guardiola or a Jose Mourinho, but the German has certainly carved out a niche for himself with his innovative brand of all-out attacking football involving high pressing.

Renowned for his 'heavy metal' football, Jurgen Klopp's teams are characterised by pressing opponents high up the pitch, forcing them to commit mistakes and scoring goals in the blink of a eye. It also involves 'gegenpressing' (counter-pressing), where Klopp's teams look to regain possession in the shortest possible time before the opponent is able to regroup.

In his own words, Jurgen Klopp used a musical metaphor to compare his style of football with that of Arsene Wenger, who was renowned for his possession-based style of play.

“He (Arsene Wenger) likes having the ball, playing football, passes. It’s like an orchestra. But it’s a silent song. But I like heavy metal more. I always want it loud."

Jurgen Klopp's best all-time XI

Jurgen Klopp became synonymous with his high-pressing football at Borussia Dortmund, where he successfully managed to challenge the domestic stranglehold of Bayern Munich. He then managed to take it up several notches at a brilliant Liverpool side brimming with quality in all departments.

Naturally, for the success of his style of play, Jurgen Klopp requires tireless players who are able to press for the ball, hurry opponents into making mistakes and exploit the open spaces in the attacking third with ruthless efficiency.

The German tactician has been lucky from that perspective, as he has been well-served by a bevy of fine players at both Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool who embodied Klopp's distinct style of play. On that note, let us have a look at the finest all-time XI managed by Jurgen Klopp.


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Goalkeeper - Alisson Becker

Alisson Becker
Alisson Becker

Although Jurgen Klopp was well served by Roman Weidenfeller during his stint at Borussia Dortmund, Alisson Becker gets the nod for a plethora of reasons.

Arguably the better of the two goalkeepers, Becker has been a key component for an all-conquering Liverpool team that won their first league title in three decades last season and the Champions League title the season before.

Becker, one of Jurgen Klopp's finest ever signings, made an instant impact at Anfield after his arrival in the summer of 2018. The Brazil number one was an instant upgrade on the error-prone Loris Karius, whose costly errors against Real Madrid in the 2018 final cost Liverpool the Champions League title.

Becker, who has kept an impressive 47 clean sheets in 96 games in all competitions for Liverpool, is renowned for his impressive shot-stopping ability, composure and ability to play the ball out from the back.

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Right-back - Trent Alexander-Arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold

Full-backs play a vital role in Jurgen Klopp's teams. They are allowed to maraud down the flanks and pepper crosses into the opposition box to create an attacking overload. Of course, they are pacy enough to track back and fulfil their defensive responsibilities when the team is not in possession.

Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson (more on him later) have epitomised and revolutionised Jurgen Klopp's playing philosophy like none else.

In Liverpool's Premier League-winning season last campaign, the two marauding full-backs provided more than ten assists apiece, which was the most by defenders in Europe's top five leagues.

In 144 games in all competitions for Liverpool, all under Jurgen Klopp, Trent Alexander-Arnold has provided 38 assists - 28 of them coming in the Premier League.

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The 22-year-old Englishman's crossing prowess has been compared with that of a certain Steven Gerrard by former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand.

"Ability-wise, you can’t question this kid - he’s got everything, his passing, going forward, the way he sees things. Defensively, it’s the only thing you could pick out. I don’t think there’s anyone that can get near him because his range of passing over different distances, it’s too much. That’s Steven Gerrard at Anfield,” said Ferdinand.

Centre-back - Mats Hummels

Mats Hummels (right)
Mats Hummels (right)

Although Mats Hummels' defensive prowess may have diminished in recent times, he made his name one of the finest centre-backs in the world under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.

The Bayern Munich academy graduate arrived at the Signal Iduna Park in 2008. He soon became one of the key components of a Borussia Dortmund team that won back-to-back Bundesliga titles and also made the UEFA Champions League final.

Although Hummels doesn't create a lot of goal-scoring chances, his aerial prowess makes him one of the key target men during set-pieces. Renowned for his impressive tackling and ball-playing ability, the 2014 World Cup winner has been called the best-ever German centre-back by Jurgen Klopp. 

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It's indeed high praise from one of the most successful managers in the game, one that Mats Hummels is not undeserving of.

Seemingly prematurely shunted out of the Germany setup after Die Mannschaft's miserable title defence at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Hummels proved to his detractors that he is far from being a spent force as he netted a rare Bundesliga double for Dortmund last weekend.


Centre-back - Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool superstar Virgil van Dijk has evolved into one of the finest centre-backs in the game since his arrival from Southampton in 2018.

Under the tutelage of Jurgen Klopp, the Dutchman has been a key player in the heart of the Liverpool defence. He has impeccable positional awareness and is almost impossible to dribble past.

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Van Dijk doesn't score a lot of goals - he has scored just 13 times in 130 appearances for Jurgen Klopp's team in all competitions - but the centre-back's aerial prowess is second to none at both ends of the field.

Former England striker Peter Crouch recently lavished praise on the Liverpool centre-back when he said:

"I watched Van Dijk last week when Liverpool beat Wolves, and he did something that made me think 'Oh, my God!' It was when Adama Traore looked like he was going to open up on the touchline, having dragged Van Dijk out of position. Usually, a fast striker would leave you for dead, but Van Dijk's reaction was extraordinary. For a man so big and heavy to move so effortlessly alongside was remarkable, and it shows why they (Liverpool) have such a good defensive record.”

Throw in Van Dijk's impressive composure in one-on-one situations, brilliant reading of the game and prowess to play the ball out from the back, opposition teams are often unable to exploit the large vacant spaces left behind by Jurgen Klopp's marauding full-backs.

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Not surprisingly, Van Dijk appeared in all 38 league games in Liverpool's victorious Premier League campaign last season and 12 of 13 games in the club's triumphant run to the Champions League title the season before.


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Published 07 Nov 2020, 14:37 IST
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