• Fri. Jun 17th, 2022

The two German coaches compare notes ahead of the first leg of their round of 16 tie.

Feb 15, 2021

Julian Nagelsmann and compatriot Jürgen Klopp will be on opposing benches again when Leipzig and Liverpool meet in the UEFA Champions League round of 16.
Klopp had left Dortmund for Liverpool before Nagelsmann made his name in the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim. Klopp’s Reds beat Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim 6-3 on aggregate in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League play-offs, but they can expect a closer encounter in the weeks ahead. Klopp, 53, and Nagelsmann, 33, compared notes ahead of kick off.
On coaching during lockdown
Jürgen Klopp: I just walked here on foot, from my coaching office. Its freezing cold in our building because the doors are open everywhere. Its a big change, I would say. I have a jacket on currently, but inside I like to have it a bit warmer. But thats only one part. It would be interesting to know how its going for you in Germany, what you are allowed to do, and what you are not.
Julian Nagelsmann: When the players go home, they are in their houses, isolated and alone again, and aren’t allowed to see anybody or go anywhere. I think you noticed this too, that there sometimes are difficult phases, when there are no fans, plus you are only seeing your teammates, and then to get focused every three days, no matter who your opponents are, is very difficult.
Leipzig vs Liverpool build-upKlopp: What I find extremely difficult I dont know how many new signings you have, but we had three. It is very difficult to find your place in the team. You cant spend much time together in the dressing room, nor in the restaurant. You cant meet privately. Its insane.
Nagelsmann: Yes. We have some players who dont speak German. Its three times as difficult for them. They dont have proper German class. They dont have any contact whatsoever to their teammates outside football because they are just sitting at home. I think you always see that its tough for new signings to integrate when you have a very established team, but this year its extreme.
On moving clubs and rising expectations
Klopp: How was the switch from Hoffenheim to Leipzig? Is the club structure any different? From the outside I would say that its not dissimilar.
Nagelsmann: In general, its quite similar. The expectations here are a bit higher because we spend more money than back then at Hoffenheim and invest more in the squad. But its not a club where I feel overwhelmed by the expectations because its still a club that is being built up, that is being developed. They dont rip you to shreds here if you dont win the league title. Its similar to your example in terms of progress. Surely, the expectation was much higher at Dortmund than at Mainz.
Klopp: I saw it as a very natural step from Mainz 05. But I think youve done really well, and the move made a lot of sense. More opportunities, which means a bit more pressure but not an overwhelming amount. Its a very good squad.
On their last meeting, when Liverpool eliminated Hoffenheim
Nagelsmann: I actually remember those games fondly, especially the one in Hoffenheim, where we played really well. We missed a penalty. And then Trent Alexander-Arnold scored with a free kick, he thundered it in. His star really rose for the first time that night, it was a wonderful shot. I dont like remembering the second leg as much. It was already pretty loud and emotional before the game. It was 3-0 after 17 minutes…
Klopp: But they were awesome goals.
Nagelsmann: Yes, true. They overran us and then in the 21st minute I was hoping that Jürgen had a folding spade up in his coachs office that I could borrow so that I could start digging in half-time. In the second half, however, we managed better, and had already managed better in general in the second leg. We played really well in the first leg. I wouldve liked to see how well we would have played, if Andrej Kramari back then wouldve scored the penalty.
Klopp: I would love to have known that too.
Nagelsmann: The first leg was a really good game. The second game was also a really good game, just not from our side. I think that they will be two very different games coming up. I hope that we dont miss a penalty, and I also hope that Trent Alexander[-Arnold] doesnt score a free-kick. Well see about everything else.
Klopp: My situation was that I had heard a lot about Julian Nagelsmann. And then we got the analysis for the game and I sat there and thought, wow, hats off! They really focussed on ball possession, on good processes, I really liked that.
What I can remember is that after the game, after the second leg, I went to look for Julian because I wanted to say goodbye or something…
Nagelsmann: I can remember that too.
Klopp: And I opened the door to a little room, where I didnt even know that there was anything behind it, and he was sitting there with his assistants at a laptop. You could see it in his face, that he was thinking: Well what happened here?
Nagelsmann: Yeah, thats exactly what happened. And you closed my laptop and said to stop it: its over anyways. Lets rather go have a beer. I took a few minutes to deal with that.
Klopp: You cant win after the game is over. Thats my experience.