Liverpool return to final as Klopp expands German presence in Champions League

Liverpool return to final as Klopp expands German presence in Champions League

For the third time since 2018, Jürgen Klopp is in a Champions League final.

This Tuesday (3), Liverpool, led by the coach, beat Villarreal, in Spain, 3-2, in the return game of the semifinals of the competition. In the first leg, at Anfield, the English had won 2-0.

It was not an easy road, as the scores might suggest. In the second game, the Spanish team suffocated the opponent in the first half, scoring with Dia and Coquelin. In the final stage, however, goalkeeper Rulli failed several times and conceded three goals, from Fabinho, Luis Díaz and Mané.

Getting to the tournament decision is something Klopp is already used to. In addition to the final lost in 2012/2013 with Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich, the German coach also lost, with Liverpool, the decisive match of the 2017/2018 edition, against Real Madrid. The consecration would come the following season, with a triumph over Tottenham.

Now, he seeks his second championship at the head of the English club. And he already expands the German presence in the decisive confrontation of the main European competition.

On the 28th, at the Stade de France, in Paris, the Champions League will see its fifth consecutive final with at least one German-born coach fighting for the title.

The streak, which began with Klopp in 2018 and 2019, saw Hansi Flick and Thomas Tuchel, Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain’s captains, respectively, decide the tournament in the 2019/2020 season in Lisbon. Flick, who now coaches the German national team, won.

Tuchel followed Klopp’s script and first tasted the bitter taste of runner-up and then became champion. Defeated with PSG, he won the final final with Chelsea, beating Manchester City coached by one of his greatest references, Pep Guardiola.

Discussing the German influence on the game played today in the elite is talking about vertical football and citing the constant pressure that teams coached by these coaches put on their opponents. More than stifling the rival ball, their teams seek almost instantaneous recovery of possession after losing it, the so-called gegenpressing.

Stealing the ball while the other team is gearing up for the attack is a way to catch their defenses off guard and, with a few passes, reach the goal.

“Imagine the number of passes needed to get the number 10 in the right position, from where he can assist. Gegenpressing allows the team to recover the ball closer to the goal, just one pass away from a great chance of scoring. None creative midfielder in the world overcomes a good situation of gegenpressing. That’s why the concept is so important”, defends Klopp.

Guardiola, who this Wednesday (4) will try to qualify for the European final – his City, who won in England 4-3, will face Real Madrid in Madrid –, his second consecutive, also drank from the German source during his time at Bayern , between 2013 and 2016. Adept at exchanging passes and circulating the ball, he added a more direct game to his repertoire during his time in Bavaria.

If the influence of German technicians on what happens on the field is evident, the contribution outside it is perhaps less recognised, but it is no less important.

Jürgen Klopp became the model for a generation of coaches who, in other times, would have had to live with distrust for not having been great football players.

Mediocre as a defender, Klopp paved the way for other professionals who had only modest careers within the four lines and, with constant study and updating, have proved the thesis of Italian Arrigo Sacchi: “I didn’t know that to be a jockey it was necessary to have been a horse “.

Tuchel retired at the age of 25, due to knee problems, after playing for clubs in the German third and second division. Hansi Flick defended Bayern in the 1980s, but far from being in the ideal team in the history of the Bavarian club (neither in the second nor in the third). Julian Nagelsmann, German champion with Bayern and semi-finalist of the Champions with RB Leipzig in 2020, also had his career cut short by injuries and, at the age of 28, he was already a coach.

“Names like Tuchel and Nageslmann realized that their limited practical skills were not necessarily an obstacle. Clubs were also encouraged to ignore previous footballing experience,” says Raphael Honigstein, author of books on German football.

The Champions League and the main European leagues form a great gathering of styles and influences, which mix and end up reinterpreted by their protagonists. But there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that it’s Germany that pulls that line today.

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