Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp does not agree with the scrutiny counterpart Pep Guardiola is coming under following Manchester City’s Champions League exit but that does not mean he will be sympathetic towards the Catalan on Sunday.
Klopp has warned his squad they cannot afford to be passive at the Etihad Stadium or they risk being bypassed by City’s ball players and so the plan is likely to be to go on the attack.
Monaco did it for 45 minutes in the south of France in midweek to wipe out a two-goal deficit but found themselves under pressure after the break and only a late goal which levelled the aggregate score at 6-6 allowed them to progress on away goals.
Guardiola and his players were criticised for squandering a two-goal advantage from the first leg and with fourth-placed Liverpool only a point behind going into this weekend’s clash the pressure is on to bounce back.
“I am not in doubt about his quality. Maybe a few people are but I am not. I respect him a lot,” said Klopp.
“I know probably a few people think (differently) now they are out of the Champions League but I think the way they played was quite impressive as Monaco.
“City could have won the game easily in the second half but because they are human beings they missed a few chances.
“For me City is the most difficult team to play. I know their image at this moment in this country is a little bit different.
“I’ve heard about Pep Guardiola’s style and all that stuff but it is real football and it is difficult to defend against them and a lot of teams have failed already.
“If you are passive against City you have no chance. You have to be active and to be active you need to be brave.
“Monaco couldn’t do it for two halves: in the first half they were good, second half it was chance after chance (for City) and we cannot hope (Sergio) Aguero misses these chances again.”
Guardiola’s first season has not gone entirely to plan after arriving to a great fanfare and even greater expectations.
Having dominated at Barcelona and Bayern Munich with admittedly better squads in less competitive leagues he has found life more difficult in England.
Klopp added: “The squad Pep Guardiola had at Barcelona was the perfect role model for a win-win situation: having all these ideas with players who can obviously fulfil all the plans he had was fantastic and an outstanding combination.
“Bayern Munich was another good generation; good players at the best age and then this world-class manager.
“There was not a second team in Germany. We (Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund) tried to be it as hard as possible but for different reasons it was not possible.
“It is a big difference coming here, the most difficult league in the world.
“A lot of teams have a lot of money and a lot of teams have a lot of good players and that is the one thing which makes it really difficult to become champions in England.
“What is more than in other countries is the result is everything. No-one cares how you get a result, no-one.
“In other countries with a few styles of play you would play with the stadium empty. Here it is different. Everything is legal but the culture is obviously different.”