Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp hopes his reunion with Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-final does not draw attention away from the games themselves.
The five-time European champions were rewarded for defeating Manchester United with a last-eight tie against Klopp’s former club, who beat Tottenham 5-1 on aggregate to reach this stage.
Klopp believes the encounters will represent a highlight for the tournament, but admits the intense focus on his personal ties to the Bundesliga side could be an unwelcome distraction.
“I am really happy with the draw,” he told Liverpool’s official website. “Yesterday I said why should I wish [to get] the strongest team in the tournament, but obviously if you want to win the Europa League, and when you are in the quarter-final, then you have to beat the strongest teams. It is better to play against them in two games than in only one game.
“I loved this place, a few of the best things in my life happened there, so of course I am looking forward to it. But on the other side, I hate the hype around my person in these matches. I know about the business and all the circumstances, that’s clear, but I don’t like it to be honest.
“I will do what I have to do and then we will see. The game and the players, completely focused – or as much focus as possible – on all these guys. During the game, all the focus on these guys and then if somebody wants to talk to me after the game, I am available then.
“Everybody who thought a few months ago maybe it’s not that interesting of a tournament, hopefully they’ve switched their minds in the last few weeks. The games against Manchester United were two great, great games and now against Dortmund.
“Going to Dortmund and playing in Dortmund is one of the best things you can do in football. And then, they are all 100 per cent looking forward to coming to Anfield. It’s football at its best and how it should be. Everybody is looking forward to it.”
Klopp expects two open encounters against Thomas Tuchel’s side, who have sustained their impressive form for much of the Bundesliga season to keep the pressure on leaders Bayern Munich.
“Dortmund are a very strong side in Germany and probably in most of the leagues in the world, they would be champions this year,” Klopp said.
“In Germany, they have the problem that Bayern Munich is in the league, but they’re only five points behind and still have a chance to become champions.
“They’re a really strong opponent, but we’re not bad, too. Everybody knows our best games have been made against really strong sides, so we know how to play this, we know how to handle it and we know a lot of Dortmund players – not all, but 98 per cent.
“So it’s open and two games that I think the whole world will watch.”