Modern football has witnessed few managerial rivalries with a narrative of mutual respect; a duel that is as fiercely competitive as it is friendly. From the legendary duel between Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger to Jose Mourinho's bitter feud with the latter, not many managers have been capable of maintaining the amiability without it metamorphosising into hostility, especially when the other party begins to pose themselves as a threat to a title.
This brings us to Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp; two accomplished tacticians who have shared the Premier League stage while managing two of the most formidable teams that Europe has seen in years.
The rivalry between the managers can be traced back to their time in Germany as Guardiola took control of Bayern Munich and Klopp managed their fierce Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund. The duo's battle for superiority has since been renewed in the Premier League where Manchester City and Liverpool have renewed hostilities after a nail-biting title race last season.
In three years, both managers have transformed their respective English clubs into two of the most exciting and intimidating sides in Europe. While Manchester City have proven their worth with consecutive Premier League titles, Liverpool showed off their title-winning capabilities with a Champions League victory.
In this article, we analyse two of England's current top managers while comparing their head-to-head individual and team statistics.
Guardiola vs Klopp in Germany
Guardiola's trophy count at Bayern Munich (The years in brackets denote trophies won after Klopp left Dortmund)
Bundesliga: 2013–14, 2014–15, (2015–16)
DFB-Pokal: 2013–14, (2015–16)
UEFA Super Cup: 2013
FIFA Club World Cup: 2013
Klopp's trophy count at Borussia Dortmund (The years in brackets denote trophies won before Pep arrived at Bayern)
Bundesliga: (2010–11), (2011–12)
DFL- Supercup: 2013, 2014
Head-to-head record in Germany
Total matches – 8 (Klopp won 4, Pep won 4)
Dortmund goals scored against Bayern – 12
Bayern goals scored against Dortmund – 12
Dortmund 4-2 Bayern – German Super Cup
Bayern 3-0 Dortmund – Bundesliga
Dortmund 3-0 Bayern – Bundesliga
Bayern 2-0 Dortmund – German Cup (Final)
Dortmund 2-0 Bayern - German Super Cup
Bayern 2-1 Dortmund – Bundesliga
Dortmund 2-1 Bayern – Bundesliga
Bayern Munich 1-1 (a.e.t.) Dortmund – German Cup semi-final. Dortmund won 2-0 on penalties.
Guardiola vs Klopp in England
Guardiola trophy count at Manchester City
Premier League: 2017–18, 2018–19
FA Cup: 2018–19
EFL Cup: 2017–18, 2018–19
FA Community Shield: 2018, 2019
Klopp trophy count at Liverpool
UEFA Champions League: 2018–19
UEFA Super Cup: 2019
Head-to-head record in England
Total matches – 10 (Klopp won – 5, Pep won – 3, Draws – 2)
Liverpool goals scored against City – 16
Manchester City goals scored against Liverpool - 14
Liverpool 1-0 Manchester City – Premier League
Manchester City 1-1 Liverpool – Premier League
Manchester City 5-0 Liverpool – Premier League
Liverpool 4-3 Manchester City – Premier League
Liverpool 3-0 Manchester City – Champions League
Manchester City 1-2 Liverpool – Champions League
Liverpool 0-0 Manchester City – Premier League
Manchester City 2-1 Liverpool – Premier League
Liverpool 1-1 Manchester City; Pep’s side 5-4 on penalties – Community Shield
Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City – Premier League
Where Klopp ranks among Guardiola's opposing managers
Guardiola may have cemented his reputation as a cheque-book manager in modern football, having enjoyed almost immediate successes with European powerhouses like Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Manchester City, but Klopp has quickly emerged as a worthy rival as he boasts of being the only manager to have a winning record against the Spaniard with nine wins, seven losses and two draws in all competitions.
Guardiola has also earned the fewest points per game against Klopp in comparison to recent opposing managers (minimum 5 games):
1. Jurgen Klopp - 1.28 ppg (18 games)
2. Jose Mourinho - 1.77 ppg (22 games)
3. Arsene Wenger - 1.93 ppg (14 games)
4. Mauricio Pochettino - 1.94 ppg (18 games)
5. Massimiliano Allegri - 2.00 ppg (6 games)
While Guardiola’s Manchester City are known for their free-flowing brand of football, Klopp’s Liverpool are well-versed in their 'gegenpressing' style of play. Guardiola has maintained his philosophy at the Etihad but Klopp has evolved beyond his usual high-pressing game, having transformed the team into a more dynamic and versatile unit. Besides gegenpressing, the Reds can now play defensive football and a counter-attacking brand of football to etch out wins.
Liverpool had the best defensive record in the Premier League last season as they conceded just 22 times in 38 games and boasted the second-highest goal-scoring record with 89 league goals. On the other hand, the Cityzens had the best goal-scoring record and the second-best defensive record in the Premier League that same season.
In the present campaign, Liverpool may have been guilty of leaking goals regularly, having conceded 10 times in 12 league outings, but they have scored 28 times so far. Despite not having either the best defensive record or the best offensive numbers in the league this term, the Reds still find themselves eight points clear at the top of the table.
Meanwhile, City have the best goalscoring record in the league this season, finding the back of the net a staggering 35 times in 12 games. However, the side have been routinely punished for their sloppy defence, having conceded 13 goals in the league so far.
Interesting facts about the Guardiola vs Klopp rivalry
#1 Klopp is yet to win a league title when Guardiola has managed a team in the same league, while the Spaniard has managed the feat four times: twice at Bayern and twice at City against Klopp’s Dortmund and Liverpool respectively.
#2 Guardiola has reached the Champions League final twice and won it both times during his time at Barcelona, but failed to reach the final with Bayern and is yet to reach it with City. Meanwhile, Klopp has reached the Champions League final thrice, once with Dortmund and twice with Liverpool. He finally managed to get his hands on the coveted trophy when Liverpool beat Spurs 2-0 in the final last season.
#3 Despite amassing the third-highest points tally - 97, Liverpool were unable to stop City from winning the Premier League title last season. Incidentally, it was the highest points tally by a non-champion side.
#4 Since losing 2-1 to Manchester City at the Etihad in the Premier League last season (4th January 2019), Liverpool are yet to lose a Premier League game.
#5 Under Guardiola, Manchester City became the first English side to win the domestic quadruple last season – Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and the Community Shield.
Guardiola’s City and Klopp’s Liverpool are undoubtedly the best sides in England at the moment with very little to choose between them. Even though the defending champions presently find themselves nine points and three places adrift of the leaders Liverpool, it’s safe to say that the Premier League title race is far from over because if any team can stop the Merseyside giants’ juggernaut, it’s definitely Manchester City.Published 11 Nov 2019, 18:06 IST