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Jurgen Klopp admits he likes Pep Guardiola and their rivalry!

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Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola will meet in opposing dugouts for the 22nd time on Sunday, the 14th as respective managers of Liverpool and Man City.

It is a managerial showdown that brings goals and has only ever ended in a draw three times, but it is the City boss who has had the upper hand in recent encounters.

And Klopp has only won one of the last seven, it came in the title-winning season, as Guardiola tweaked the way his team approach Liverpool and reaped the rewards.

The Spaniard spoke of how Klopp is one of the managers who “challenge you to make a step forward” and the Reds boss returned his words in kind, saying he is “one of the biggest challenges for all managers” to overcome.

While his words often get misconstrued, there can be no wrongly interpreting Klopp on this occasion as he praised Guardiola and his team’s ability to consistently punish any and all mistakes.

“Never sure I ever told Pep, but I like him,” Klopp said with a laugh on Friday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola after the final whistle during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. (Martin Rickett/PA Wire/PA Images)

“From time to time I annoy him in a press conference which is not to say anything bad about him or Man City but when one of Man City‘s staff tells him ‘Klopp said that’, I can see he gets really angry. Sorry for that!

“I said it before, we think we know a lot about each other but we actually don’t.

“We meet each other for football games but two years ago, I think it was, we had a few situations where we went together for award [ceremonies] and our families met.

“And I can tell you if somebody has a family like Pep Guardiola, they must be a good person. That’s what’s important for me.

“And during the game, whatever he says and whatever I say, I want to win desperately and he wants to do that,” he continued. ”

“We are completely different in personalities but nonetheless, I like him. I respect him.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 7, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring the first equalising goal from a penalty kick during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“It’s one of the biggest challenges for all managers in football to face his teams because they are good!

“I like that as well because it’s one of these games. When people say first division (Premier League, Bundesliga, Champions League) on this level I say, there’s no mercy for mistakes.

“If you make a mistake, bam you get punished. And that’s pretty much a game against Man City, always.

“So you better not make a lot of mistakes otherwise you will get a knock! But if you don’t, at least when you are Liverpool, then you have a chance and I really think it’s interesting to give it a try.”

And Liverpool will do just that but with a full Anfield behind them, a challenge Guardiola knows is a completely different one to that which faced City last season behind closed doors.

He said at the time: “Anfield with and without [fans] is completely different.” There’s no doubt he’ll be reminded of just that on Sunday.

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