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Thursday, December 08, 2022

Klopp vs Ancelotti, clash of styles in the Champions League final

One is a chest-pounding, arm-flapping, emotional leader whose high-energy team style is made in his own image.

The other is serene, unflappable, and so light-hearted that he almost doesn’t seem to care, conveying calm around him with his “I’ve seen it all and done it all” approach.

In some ways, Jurgen Klopp and Carlo Ancelotti are polar opposites as soccer managers. What unites them is the ability to use their own inimitable style to hoist the sport’s biggest trophies.

It’s yet another reason why Saturday’s Champions League final between Klopp’s Liverpool and Ancelotti’s Real Madrid is so intriguing. Simply put, neither club would want to be guided to the biggest match in club tournaments by anyone else.

Apparently, Klopp was made to be the manager of Liverpool. He is the Bill Shankly of the modern era, the legendary club helmsman and man of the people of the 1960s and early 1970s who set the Reds on the path to becoming a giant of Europe.

Liverpool loves Klopp and Klopp loves Liverpool, so much so that he recently signed a new contract that will keep him at Anfield until 2026, beyond a decade with the club. No manager has been at Liverpool this long since… Shankly.

Klopp is not “the normal one”, the label he gave himself in his presentation as Liverpool manager in October 2015, in reference to José Mourinho’s self-styled “Special One” description. He won the Champions League in 2019, the Premier League in 2020 – to end Liverpool’s 30-year wait for the trophy that used to belong at Anfield – and has just spearheaded what could be the best season in Liverpool history. team.

League Cup winner, FA Cup winner, Premier League runner-up — by one point — after losing just two games, and potentially Champions League winner. No previous English club has come so close to quadrupling.

Klopp’s appearance has changed — he no longer wears glasses after eye surgery in the summer of 2021 and had his teeth whitened in late 2017 — but his unwavering passion and fierce determination remain from his first days in office. Fans of Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, the teams he coached in Germany, can attest to that.

After each victory, Klopp walks onto the pitch, addresses the Liverpool fans and celebrates with them raucously.

It is something that Ancelotti would never do.

Ancelotti goes with the flow, adapts to the circumstances. Cristiano Ronaldo said of the Italian when they were both at Madrid: “From the first time I met him, he made me feel very comfortable.”

Klopp, in his own way, is the same. He has become more of a tactician in recent years, curbing his notorious “heavy metal football” by adding an element of control to Liverpool’s game.

At heart, both Klopp and Ancelotti are compassionate people, “people” and outright winners.

And that is why they are in the Champions League final once again, Ancelotti for a record fifth time and Klopp for the fourth time in nine years.

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