It’s Liverpool vs Chelsea. The Reds vs the Blues. Jurgen Klopp vs Thomas Tuchel.
Two different club philosophies, similar managerial roots.
Both the Germans took their first steps in the glorious but relentless world of a football manager with the same clubs. Although Tuchel has experienced more footballing environments than Klopp, it is the Reds manager who has registered more experience under his belt, in terms of matches managed. Given the fact that he started out much earlier (7 years) than Tuchel and also he is six years senior to the Chelsea coach.
Klopp’s big break came with his beloved Mainz, where he is considered a living legend. After registering more than 300 appearances for the club in 11 years, Mainz offered Klopp to lead the club as the manager.
He led the club to their first ever promotion to the Bundesliga in the 2003/04 season, an achievement that still reverberates echoes of joy in the small city, just west of Germany’s financial capital, Frankfurt.
Tuchel took similar strides by gaining his first real shot at being a manager at Mainz, but rather with the U-19 team. It had been one year since Jurgen Klopp left the helm at Mainz in 2009, searching for greener pastures in Dortmund.
Inexperienced Tuchel was called upon by Mainz’s top management to take over the reigns of the first team that had just gained promotion to the Bundesliga. It was their second promotion – this time under Danish manager Jorn Andersen who managed to sandwich one year between Klopp’s departure and Tuchel’s arrival.
Tuchel went on to establish a structured Mainz team that engaged in dynamic and attacking football, but nonetheless underperformed. His tactical approach to player management convinced the club to hold onto him for 5 years. A tenure no Mainz supporter would have seen coming.
2015 – Seven glorious years at the Signal Iduna Park – winning two Bundesliga titles, two DFL-Supercups and one DFB-Pokal, Jurgen Klopp had converted Dortmund into an European superpower. His Black & Yellows produced some of the most stupendous football. Enroute, dispatching the likes of Real Madrid and one of the best Bayern Munich teams in recent history. Although they lost the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League finals to them, a sleek Arjen Robben goal in the dying minutes doing the damage.
Tuchel took over the chair at Dortmund in 2015 from Klopp, who moved to Liverpool in search of European glory which he eventually found a couple of seasons back. The now Chelsea manager carried on the high-tempo philosophy in front of the Yellow Wall from what Klopp had left over.
He managed to bring the best out of talents such as Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembele, Julian Weigl, Gonzalo Castro and Christian Pulisic. Tuchel won only one major trophy with Dortmund in the form of the DFB-Pokal before moving onto capture leaps and bounds with Paris Saint-Germain.
It would be the only time in Tuchel’s managerial career where he hasn’t followed Jurgen Klopp – to the same club per se, until Premier League came calling.
While Tuchel replaced Unai Emery at PSG and won all there is to be won in France, Klopp was busy building a Liverpool side that would take the Premier League by storm in the 2019/2020 season.
It was in Paris that Tuchel truly showed his tactical prowess, but now at Chelsea, the stakes are much higher.
An eye-catching tactical encounter between the German coaches is bound to take place in a voiceless Anfield.