Pep Guardiola described Jurgen Klopp as “an incredible manager” on the eve of Liverpool’s trip to Premier League title rivals Manchester City.
The reigning champions face a seven-point deficit to Klopp’s Reds, who are yet to taste a top-flight defeat this season ahead of Thursday’s crunch clash at the Etihad Stadium.
Last October’s showdown between the two sides at Anfield ended in a goalless draw, but Liverpool prevailed in three of last season’s four meetings.
If that recent record suggests Klopp may have got the measure of Guardiola’s City, the former Barcelona coach did not appear too concerned and freely offered up warm praise for his German counterpart.
“First of all, he’s an incredible manager,” said Guardiola, who saw his side beat Southampton last time out to put back-to-back losses behind them.
“I have a good relationship with him and his team always plays good.
“I don’t count the number of times I beat managers and think I am special.
“Our teams play, I beat him, he beat me, I win cups and he won some. I congratulate him when he beats me and I move forward.”
32 – Jurgen Klopp has now defeated all 32 of the British clubs he’s faced as Liverpool boss in all competitions – before tonight, Wolves were the only side he’d failed to beat, losing in the FA Cup in January 2017 in their only previous meeting. Rule. pic.twitter.com/96gjJaIaXs
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) 21 December 2018
Having won major domestic and European honours with Barca, Bayern Munich and now City, Guardiola has lost none of his enthusiasm for the big matches and he is relishing this one.
Asked what it meant to him to be involved in such games, he replied: “[It is an] incredible pleasure. I’m a manager and to play these games, to see what we can do on the big stage with people in these stadiums, it’s a dream to play these games.
“It’s when I’m most calm. The players will try to do the performance they can do.”
City will have to wait on the fitness of Kevin De Bruyne, who trained on Wednesday following a persistent knee problem.
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