Jurgen Klopp has described Pep Guardiola as the best manager in the world ahead of Liverpool’s showdown with Manchester City on Sunday.
The Premier League champions head to Anfield looking for a win that will take them three points above Liverpool at the top of the table, with only goal difference separating the sides after seven matches.
Klopp says he has huge respect for the way in which City play under Guardiola and described it as “exciting” to face his teams.
“I’ve said it a few times, that if we couldn’t be champions last season then Manchester City are very welcome,” the Liverpool boss told Sky Sports.
“They had an outstanding season, I respect it a lot – I love it, actually. Watching them is really good.
“My respect for Pep Guardiola couldn’t be bigger, he is the world’s best manager and that makes it so difficult, but so exciting to play his teams.
“I have a really good relationship with Pep. A few times before these games, you say a few things and then realise obviously it could have been misunderstood, but then it’s really important to say I really like and respect Pep and his staff.”
Liverpool beat City 4-3 at Anfield in the league last season to end the visitors’ unbeaten run in the top flight in 2017-18, which had stood at 22 matches.
They then knocked them out of the Champions League quarter-finals with a 5-1 aggregate victory, which came following a 3-0 victory at home and a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium.
Klopp, though, thinks that tie showed Liverpool that they cannot ever relax against Guardiola’s men.
“Normally when you win 3-0, you say it’s halfway done, but it was not even that much of an advantage, it was just a lead,” he said.
“If you asked anyone they would say it was not done. Look at the game at Manchester City – there was an offside goal, which was not offside, which could have changed the game, but we were really calm.
“We had to change a bit tactically in the game, and worked better then, but we had the opportunity with two really good goals.
“You could feel the shock when we first scored. It’s not that you go out of a game like this thinking now we have the solution to deal with Manchester City. That was that day, and they will try to strike back.”