Jurgen Klopp can help Ralf Rangnick beat Man City with Manchester United


Around two decades ago, Ralf Rangnick faced Jurgen Klopp while in charge of Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga. The two coaches weren’t personal friends at the time, but their coaching styles appeared to be similar.

Shortly after the contest, Rangnick called Klopp to ask him questions about one of his upcoming opponents. The team in question had faced Klopp’s Mainz outfit just days earlier, and Rangnick was keen to pick his brain for information.

The duo have shared a distant relationship since but this weekend, Rangnick could once again use Klopp to shape his tactics for a specific opponent. His team is scheduled to face Klopp’s title rivals Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.

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Pep Guardiola’s side are incredibly difficult to beat, but the Liverpool boss has proven to be more successful than most of his peers when it comes to inflicting damage upon the Etihad.

Of all the coaches who Guardiola has faced more than six times in his career, his record against Klopp is his worst — followed by none other than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in second place. He averages just 1.41 points-per-game against Klopp.

Rangnick could once again seek assistance from Klopp but rather than calling him directly and conversing over the phone as he did in Germany all those years ago, he could use his tactical blueprint from previous meetings as a template from which to work.

When facing City, especially at the Etihad, Klopp tends to instruct his players to refrain from pressing high up the field. Instead, Liverpool typically focus on blocking the center of the park using a narrow formation around the center circle.

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“What does City want to do? They want to play through the centre,” said Klopp after facing City at Anfield in October.



Blocking the center of the pitch before initiating counter-attacks has been central to beating Manchester City in recent years

As a result, Guardiola’s players are usually presented with two options against Liverpool, as shown below. They can either build using the flanks — which allows their opponents to remain relatively safe — or they can take risks by forcing passes through the middle.

The latter has allowed Liverpool to thrive on the counter-attack over the years. Klopp’s players have focused on intercepting those central passes in previous meetings before launching quick moves towards goal, and United have the personnel to behave in a similar manner on Sunday afternoon.

With the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Elanga, Jadon Sancho, Jesse Lingard and Cristiano Ronaldo at his disposal, Rangnick has the tools to launch dangerous counters, while ensuring that Manchester United remain compact and difficult to play through on the defensive side of the game. .



Photo by Rob Newell - CameraSport via Getty Images
Photo by Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images

Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic also appear capable of intercepting those passes through the middle, before feeding the teammates who are ahead of them.

Rangnick’s forwards are quick and vaguely comparable to those used by Klopp in terms of speed and directness, and they have picked up a number of positive results against Guardiola in the past, specifically under Solskjaer.

So Rangnick’s old friend could give him an edge ahead of his first Manchester derby as a coach. City are favourites, but United have the weapons to pick up three points on Sunday.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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