Jurgen Klopp expecting no favours back in Borussia Dortmund
Liverpool manager knows the scale of the challenge awaiting his side in Germany
Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel: “Liverpool have outstanding individual quality in their squad and are extremely difficult to play against.” Photograph: Martin Meissner/AP
Jurgen Klopp, the man who led Borussia Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles, complete with a German Cup double in 2012, denied his inside knowledge of Thomas Tuchel’s squad offers Liverpool a competitive advantage in tonight’s Europa League quarter-final, first leg.
“It’s true I know all the players except for Castro and Wiegl but that is not a crucial factor for this game,” Klopp added.
“My players have not come here expecting me to give them a detailed breakdown on every Dortmund player and to tell them whether they turn left or right or play through the middle.
“We have looked at the way Dortmund play and have seen their development; they are playing attractive football, but my players haven’t travelled here without hope of getting a result tomorrow.
“I heard Dortmund trained today with a full squad apart from Subotic and they rested some players at the weekend. Nobody in my squad was rested at the weekend. It is all about the moment and we need to use the moment tomorrow. . . We have to play top-level football and then we have a chance.”
Klopp was informed people in his old neighbourhood have had a collection and would like to present him with a gift during his brief return to Germany. “That’s cool but it depends on what it is,” he replied. “Does everyone here really like me?”
Tuchel said Klopp was guaranteed a warm welcome on his return to his old fortress. “Anything else but a warm welcome for Jurgen Klopp will be a surprise,” Tuchel said.
But he added: “From the moment the whistle goes Jurgen Klopp will want nothing else than to win. And we too.”
For Tuchel, though, facing Klopp at one of the latter’s former sides is a far from unusual experience, having spent five years in charge of Mainz, the club where the Liverpool boss started his managerial career.
Tuchel has enjoyed an impressive first season at Dortmund, leading a side which finished seventh under Klopp last term to second in the table, behind Bayern Munich, and to the last eight in Europe, including a thumping 5-1 aggregate win over title-chasing Tottenham.
The 42-year-old is aware, though, he is building on foundations laid by his predecessor.
“No-one has forgotten when he achieved here. We are now where we are, because of our history with Jurgen,” said Tuchel.
However, Tuchel believes their form is improving.
“Liverpool have continued to improve in the past weeks,” he said. “They have outstanding individual quality in their squad and are extremely difficult to play against. We have to be ready for an absolutely top performance.”
Gonzalo Castro, though, a summer signing from Bayer Leverkusen, believes Dortmund have more than enough to match their opponents.
“If we perform, it will be tough for Liverpool,” he said.
His fellow midfielder, Germany international Ilkay Gundogan, could yet be fit for the match, having looked set to miss out with a foot injury.