Thomas Tuchel has branded Jurgen Klopp “the master of being the underdog” as he praised his compatriot for fostering a countrywide “sympathy” for Liverpool.
Pep Guardiola lit a fuse between his Manchester City side and Klopp’s Liverpool by claiming “everyone in this country” wants the Reds to pull off an unprecedented quadruple this season.
German managers Tuchel and Klopp will meet for the 19th time in top-level football this weekend, in a repeat of February’s Carabao Cup final when Liverpool prevailed 11-10 on penalties.
And Blues boss Tuchel admitted admiration for Klopp’s ability to engender neutral support for the Anfield club.
“There are huge sympathies for Liverpool, I feel that as well, in the whole country and I can understand it,” said Tuchel.
“Of course it is also because of Jurgen, but in general what this club stands for and how they run the business, and how the fans push their team.
“You have the feeling it’s purely about football and this is like a huge history in this club and there is a huge sympathy for it.
“If you fight against it, like Pep for many, many years, I can understand his comment that it feels sometimes like this.
“But at the same time, I don’t think it’s only here. It’s in Germany like this and in France too.”
Asked where those sympathies come from, Tuchel said: “You know Klopp is the master of being the underdog.
“He can talk you into being the underdog against Villareal and against Benfica, and it’s a miracle, miracle how they even draw against them.
“He can talk you into it and he does it all the time, he does it a lot of times. That’s part of it, that’s also like from where the sympathy comes.
“There’s nothing to be jealous of from my side. Klopp is a fantastic guy, funny guy, one of the very, very best coaches in the world and that’s what he does.
“When he trained Dortmund, the whole country loved Dortmund. So now he trains Liverpool and you have the feeling the whole country loves Liverpool.
“It’s big, big, big credit to him and this is what you deal with if you play a team against him, it’s always like this, but it’s always the fun part and so if we are the bad guys tomorrow, then no problem.
“If we take that role, no problem. We don’t want to have the sympathy of the country tomorrow – we want to have the trophy.”
Tuchel admitted Chelsea must stand firm in the face of Klopp’s charm that has created a tight-knit bond with Liverpool supporters.
“You have to stand up against it, just also be self-confident and do your thing and not get influenced,” said Tuchel.
“I was even the guy behind him, after him at Dortmund. It was another role to do this and not always easy.
“But I have nothing but the biggest respect for him for what he’s doing. But he is very charismatic.
“He is like one with the supporters and the club and he is the face, the charismatic leader of this development, of this huge club.
“It is a club with a huge, huge reputation, not only in Europe, but worldwide, so my players have to step up against it and I have to step up against it.”