Vadim Lukomsky – about great rivalry.

“Are we able to beat the strongest team in the world? I think so, ”Jurgen Klopp formulated the question before the game with City. And according to the latest verdict of Pep Guardiola, Liverpool will not be able to beat the strongest team in the world, because Liverpool itself is the strongest team.

It is a rare case when such a degree of mutual respect (and maybe even fear) is not an exaggeration, but an objective assessment of the opponent. Jürgen and Pep hear this every week.

Genka coach Felis Mazzu was pleased with the minimal defeat at Anfield and, of course, after the match he did not forget to call Liverpool the best team in the world. After a draw with City, Gian Piero Gasperini threw questions about Kyle Walker at the City gates, so he did not voice the position of the Guardiola team in the ranking of top clubs.

Not scary. The work was done for him by the previous opponent Ralph Hazenhüttl from Southampton: "Playing against the best football team in the world, we did not allow her to create many moments."

The proclamation of Liverpool and City as the best in the world with a frequency of at least once a week – a new norm. No one is surprised, and the object of a compliment depends on which of the teams the author of the quote has just watched. Yes, the football world has long been mired in the moment, but this pace of praise is still anomalous.

The best explanation: what if they really two best teams in the world? Nobody dominated like that in the Premier League by results. Since 2018, these teams lose only 0.22 points on average per game. This is a miserable and marginally better result. In second place are Manchester United and City for 2011-13 – 0.32. There has not yet been any rivalry with such a minimum right to make mistakes in England – and it is unlikely to be after the Klopp Guardiola era.

But another element makes it truly unique – an incredible degree of respect for the opponent. Last week, the first quarrel around the Guardiola’s words about the dives of Sadio Mane just happened. But she only confirmed that they were not able to really swear.

Even having gone on the attack on Pep, Klopp first called him the best coach in the world (he repeated his last year’s words – he probably sincerely thinks so). Guardiola, a couple of days before the attack on Mane, called Klopp's Liverpool one of the two best teams he had ever played with (one more was Barca by Luis Enrique).

This is a love correspondence with elements of a quarrel, and not vice versa. Previously, in great rivals, everything was different. Friendship was possible between direct rivals from different leagues – for example, Marcello Lippi and Alex Ferguson. The second option: maximum respect and even friendship were achieved within the framework of one league, but only after the rivalry ceased to be direct – this is the case of Wenger and Ferguson.

At the time of the rivalry itself, there were always real conflicts that were necessary not only for managers, but also for teams. Now tactics replaced anger as the main motive for such matches. Clever Klopp and Guardiola quickly realized that in such conditions it is more profitable not to curse, but to learn from each other. This process is especially easy for them, since it starts with genuine sympathy.

Klopp taught Guardiola to love fast attacks

Everything started in Germany. Guardiola relatively quickly realized that his ideas in their pure form would not work in the Bundesliga. The basis has remained the same, but the details have changed incredibly. It was through a meeting with Klopp that Pep became acquainted with German values ​​and received a signal for change.

“I learned a lot for myself when I first played with the Jurgen team in Germany. This was something new. I thought: "Wow, they taught me a great lesson." We lost 2-4 in the Super Bowl. In subsequent matches in the league, I learned to control his team a little better, but it is always very difficult. When Klopp says that his football is heavy metal, I perfectly understand what he means, ”Guardiola recalled.

Pepa trained the league, which was very different from the Spanish. But it was precisely Klopp's successes that made the Bundesliga. All fans are from hegenpressing and wanted to be like Jürgen. “Gegenpressing has become a German asset, and Klopp has become an example for many trainers. Now every team in the Bundesliga is using gen-pressing. In the 2015/16 season, at least 10 of the 18 league clubs played Klopp football, ”explained Toby Asher, author of Vom Libero zur Doppelsechs, a book on the history of German tactics.

“Perhaps there are more matches played in England, but the intensity of the games in the Bundesliga is higher – it is unimaginable,” Guardiola explained. To adapt to the intensity, Pep came up with new tricks: 1) diagonal translation + isolation for the game against compactness, which Klopp spawned; 2) false fullbacks to deter counterattacks; 3) quick attacks to match the intensity (in the last season of his “Bayern” was 2nd in the league in goals after counterattacks.

Pep has not yet figured out how to break Klopp's pressure as part of his philosophy. In successful matches, he either abandoned the usual model of positional attacks and rolled into sterile possession, or played with distant passes through the pillar (in Bavaria Javi Martinez was used for this). According to Jürgen, in one full-time match, Bayern made more long-range passes than in all the other games of the season combined.

But, even learning to destroy the weaker imitators of Klopp from the Bundesliga, Guardiola has changed and become more varied. Guardiola almost did not use the listed elements before Bavaria. Without Klopp's lessons, they probably would not have appeared in his arsenal.

Guardiola helped Klopp improve positional attacks

Klopp also needed a reaction to Guardiola, who adapted and possessed the resources of Bavaria. It was against the backdrop of success that Pepa Jurgen threw the legendary phrase about creating a “pressure machine” and set about experimenting (including attempts to use the rhombus in midfield), during which an important balance would be lost.

Then Klopp saw an even more radical model of pressure.. But the plan failed. Jürgen overloaded the players, and his radicalism, combined with a strong bad luck, led to the worst season in his career (7th place with Borussia).

But in the course of that terrible campaign, Klopp said: “I became a stronger coach than in 2012, although you can’t say the same from the table.” That season prompted Jurgen to leave Borussia and rethink his philosophy. The true answer was not to make pressure that was ideal in balance more aggressive, but to add to it effective ball possession.

Jurgen began his career at Liverpool with the phrase: “I am not limited to one style. Football, which was used in Borussia, was only based on a style that seemed to give the best chance of success in specific conditions. ”

Jürgen not only plunged into the problem, but also surrounded himself with specialists – for example, he promoted Pep Linders from youth teams (now he is his chief assistant and even goes to press conferences before the League Cup games).

“We very clearly understand what we want in terms of gradually moving the ball forward and using the space that the opponent leaves us in positional attacks, we clearly imagine what our positional game should be like,” Linders explained in the summer of 2016. The process has been started.

Soon, the principles of Liverpool positional football on air with Jamie Carragher confidently analyzed Klopp himself. He talked about the attention that he is now paying to point out to the players the spaces that the opponent leaves during positional defense, about dividing the team into a defensive three and a free attacking seven, located within the framework of the principles of Juego de posicion.

It got to the point that Pep began to recognize its positional attack structure in Liverpool (with other player roles, but the same pattern). Where City has Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva, Liverpool has Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. Where City has Rahim Sterling and Leroy Sane (or Marez and Sterling), Liverpool has extreme defenders. Both teams use the same zones in the attack (often semi-flanks), but because of the characteristics of the players they do this very differently.

Pep shared his observation on the MNF in May 2018. And two months later, the great Liverpool season started with 97 points in the Premier League and a victory in the Champions League. In some ways, a breakthrough was predicted.

Positional football is a difficult concept that is best taught in Spain and the Netherlands. For a coach who has built a career in a different style, introducing these principles is almost a feat. Klopp not only managed, but also did not lose the traditional strengths. Like Guardiola, he became more variable.

Even the old-fashioned tricks of Jürgen and Pep turn into a superweapon

The process of global lessons and transformation seems to be coming to an end. But this couple invents and adopts the minimum useful details from each other in almost every full-time match – the latest trends parsed in the text about the super bowl.

Since then, another detail has appeared. Klopp's assistant Peter Kravitz takes the preparation of standards to a new level. Last season, Liverpool put 20 goals off the standard in the Premier League – 9 more than City. The implementation of the Pep team was significantly worse – 8.2% versus 14%

This summer, Guardiola invited a separate standards coach – Nicolas Jove from Brentford. Right now, City and Liverpool have the first and second results of the Premier League goals against standards – 6: 5 in favor of City. According to The Athletic, the search for a specialist by standards began precisely against the backdrop of Liverpool’s stunning success in this area.

In addition to constantly looking at each other, Jurgen and Pep have the talent to discover old things in a new way. Make them effective and even fashionable. This year, such a rethinking happened with awnings and backache.. Liverpool and City are confident league leaders in the number of crosses.

Sometimes this indicates the lack of team effectiveness, but, as with any number, context is needed. On large numbers, awnings are a really terrible attack method. Only 1.3% of the canopies lead to a goal – that is, about 80 canopies go to the goal. In another season, the figure rises to 2%, but this does not change the essence. Based on this, it is more reasonable to keep the ball and continue the attack, rather than hanging. It seems that only those who have no other ideas in the attack go through the canopy.

In practice, everything is more difficult: in statistics there is a huge number of awnings from inaction, when the opponent is ready for them – there the effectiveness is even lower; and there are smart awnings where the attacking team creates the player a comfortable environment. But ceteris paribus, crosses were still rightly considered an ineffective attack method.

Klopp and Guardiola challenged this truth. Leading in innings, they did not make the team more primitive in the attack. The reason is perfect pitch preparation.

How does it work for Liverpool?

• The main source of awnings is Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

• thanks to the positional structure and the threat from the attacking troika of Salah-Firmino-Mane, the rivals narrow and leave the flanks free.

• In addition, Liverpool stretches the opponent with passes from one extreme defender to another. Klopp's team is the absolute leader of the season in this respect.

• Robertson and Trent are created the conditions for their favorite type of innings. They have different preferences.

• TAA prefers to serve free from the depths, so Henderson (Veynaldum) and Salah move the opponents away from Trent with a movement:

• It is important for Robertson to serve the moving ball with the first touch. Alexander-Arnold told about this feature of the partner: “For some reason, Robbo is a thousand times more convenient to hang if the ball is moving, and not static. Why? No one knows".

On this edge, another situation is created – Manet is located a little closer to the flank and is constantly ready for combinations with Robbo, followed by a touch-feed:

• you probably already heard about a couple’s records in terms of the number of moments and assists – 12 + 11 last season and 3 + 3 this season.

How does it work for City?

• The main source of canopies is KDB.

• Kevin is striking in the variety of innings – owns all types. And in general, perhaps, now is the number one in the world in terms of quality of service. “David Beckham and Stephen Gerrard are the best in the awnings of all time that I watch the Premier League. De Bruyne is at the same level with them in terms of quality of innings – this is a very serious compliment, ”says Gary Neville.

• City also creates comfortable conditions for cross-country rides. The first type is the TAA variant. Kevin goes to about the same point as the TAA, and partners lead the rivals.

• the second option – a sharp jerk of the KDB towards the flank at the moment when the right winger (Marez or Bernardo) holds the ball. If the guardian runs after the Belgian, Marez gets freedom to go through the reference. Most opponents are afraid to leave the supporting one – and leave KDB free on the flank. In vain – it's even worse.

• In two scenarios, KDB gains freedom before serving. Gorgeous uses. Kevin – the best in Europe in exact transfers to the penalty area.

• KDB is also the leader in the number of assists (9) and obvious assists (11 – and here is his main pursuer TAA).

Thank you for moving the game forward guys!

It seems that Klopp and Guardiola are able to make even sandals on toes something stylish (just do not tell them about the existence of such an option – you definitely do not need to). This unique talent moves football forward and forces others to adapt. They have already made City and Liverpool the most stable teams on the planet.

But there is one problem – Klopp and Guardiola read each other too well. Last season, it came down to mutual neutralization – goals came from illogical and very isolated episodes. Sharp moments were clearly not enough.

A great tactical battle awaits us, but not necessarily a great match. Although the stop is starring Jürgen and Pep. They are cool enough (Klopp, of course, cooler) to make even spectacular tactical battles fashionable.

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Photo: Kruger, Shaun Botterill, Alex Livesey, Dennis Grombkowski, Laurence Griffiths, Michael Regan, Shaun Botterill, Alexander Hassenstein, Clive Brunskill