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Guardiola best coach in the world, says Liverpool's Klopp ahead of clash against Man City

Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp has labelled Premier League title rival Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as the "best coach in the world" as the pair prepare to meet on Sunday in a crucial tie.

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Manchester, First Published Apr 8, 2022, 6:25 PM IST

Come Sunday, Premier League fans would perhaps get a sense of which way the title race is headed as leaders Manchester City take on Liverpool, who are just one point away, at the Etihad Stadium. Ahead of the mouth-watering clash, the Reds' boss Jurgen Klopp labelled his league title rival Pep Guardiola as 'the best coach in the world', after the Man City manager's Champions League light-hearted comments were taken seriously by some sections of the media.

Ahead of the Sky Blues' Champions League quarter-final tie with Atletico Madrid, Guardiola joked that he might have found the solution to the suggestion that he over-complicated his tactics in the big games: playing with 12 players.

"In the Champions League, I always overthink," Guardiola said. "I always create new tactics and ideas, and you will see a new one. I overthink a lot. That's why I have very good results in the Champions League. It would be boring if my job, all the time, we had to play the same way."

Klopp expects an engrossing battle on Sunday, with Liverpool having the chance to go two points clear at the top of the Premier League with a victory. However, the German was obliged to defend Guardiola ahead of the crucial clash.

"It was ironic! I saw there was a story in Ecuador this week which claimed I didn't understand Luis Diaz. You have a responsibility on this planet. If you want to talk to us, then please do us a favour and help us. Pep said ironically, 'I overthink, and I like overthinking'," Klopp said.

"Pep is the best coach in the world. I think we would all agree on that, and it might be a coincidence that it didn't work out in the Champions League so far. If anybody doubts him, I have no idea how that could happen," the Liverpool boss added.

Champions City leads Liverpool, who have won their last 10 Premier League games, by just one point heading into the meeting at the Etihad. Klopp believes the encounter will live up to the top billing.

"Very often, it doesn't happen when two top teams face each other, but our history of matches has shown them to be an interesting watch as both teams really go for it. Both teams want to use momentum and gaps and create momentum. We both look for gaps, so I expect an interesting game," the German added.

"In sport, what helps the most is having a strong opponent. In the long term, especially, that helps you the most. I'm sure [Rafa] Nadal and [Roger] Federer helped each other a lot. I'm not sure it would've been the case had they not had each other to compete against," Klopp remarked.

"I wouldn't say it's helpful [having City as a title rival], but it hasn't denied our development. I don't worry about the mentality of my boys. We've learned over the years to be in the game, but after the match with Benfica, they were aware it was now 'City time', and we will be prepared. We both played on Tuesday, so we've had enough time to prepare for the game and recover. Let's go," the Liverpool manager added.

In the 2019 season, City pipped Liverpool in a similarly tight title race by a single point to clinch the Premier League trophy. When asked if Sunday's tie will prove decisive in this season's title race, Klopp stated that he could not decide what people think but instead go through the possible results.

"If we win, we're two points up. If we lose, we're four points behind. If anyone thinks, 'that's it' I cannot change it. I'm sure City won't be thinking this way. If it's a draw, we're one point behind. I'm really looking forward to the challenge," the Liverpool boss said.

"We qualified for a great game with the season we've played so far, and I'm really happy we can be part of it, and many people can watch it. We'll give it a try," Klopp added.

"You have to prepare, and then you have to show respect by the way you defend. There's no game in world football you can compare with games with Man City. They have no areas of weakness, but it's football, and the pitch is very big, so you have to use your chances and the space to create," the German continued.

"All you can do is try to deny them as best you can. If you give the best players space, that makes no sense. There's a lot to think about, but in the end, I really hope I can help the boys to have all the necessary information but not too much. They need to be themselves and enjoy the game," Klopp concluded.

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