Klopp set to renew rivalry

Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, scoring from the spot against AEK Athens last month, will carry the German champions' chances against Liverpool in the Champions League last 16. The Polish forward leads the competition in scoring with eight goals,
Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, scoring from the spot against AEK Athens last month, will carry the German champions' chances against Liverpool in the Champions League last 16. The Polish forward leads the competition in scoring with eight goals, and will come up against his former coach Jurgen Klopp, with whom he reached the 2014 final.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Liverpool coach takes his side to homeland to face old foes and five-time winners Bayern

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp had nine wins, three draws and 10 losses as Borussia Dortmund manager while battling Bayern Munich for supremacy in Germany until 2015.

The six-time defending Bundesliga champions were happy to see the back of the man who denied them two titles from 2010-12 when he left for Liverpool. Klopp and Bayern will renew their rivalry, for the first time since leaving his homeland, in the last 16 of the Champions League after the teams were drawn against each other yesterday.

The Reds are the current form side and sit atop the Premier League, while Bayern, under new coach Niko Kovac, have fallen short of their own high standards in the Bundesliga, nine points off table-toppers Dortmund in third.

But Klopp knows that anything can happen between now and the first leg at home on Feb 12 and, given Bayern's pedigree as fellow five-time winners, there can be no writing off what he called "a top side".

He said yesterday: "Difficult. Good draw. It was clear it would be difficult. For me, it's nice, going to Germany. But it's just the draw.

"So we have now time to prepare the game, a lot of time obviously and, hopefully, we have all our (injured) players available then. It will be a tough one, an interesting one, and I am looking forward to it."

The German claimed his history with Bayern would not make a "big, massive difference" as circumstances have changed since their last meeting in a friendly last year.

  • CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW FOR LAST 16

  •  Schalke (Ger) v Manchester City (Eng) 

    Atletico Madrid (Esp) v Juventus (Ita) 

    Manchester United (Eng) v Paris Saint-Germain (Fra)

    Tottenham (Eng) v Borussia Dortmund (Ger)

    Lyon (Fra) v Barcelona (Esp)

    Roma (Ita) v Porto (Por)

    Ajax (Ned) v Real Madrid (Esp) 

    Liverpool (Eng) v Bayern Munich (Ger)

    1st leg: Feb 12/13 and 19/20 

    2nd leg: March 5/6 and 12/13

"This is a different Bayern than what I played, we are already here for three years and since the Audi Cup (last year). We all know the stadium, the atmosphere will be great," he added. "We obviously know more about German football than any league, that's true but, in the end, the boys have to decide it on the pitch. Let's give it a try."

The 51-year-old also felt the pairing was the pick of the knockout stage as it "100 per cent" represented a clash between "two of the world's biggest clubs".

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic was equally enthused about the draw, insisting the visit to Anfield would be "something to look forward to as a player".

He said of the Reds: "A tough cookie. That's the team of the hour, the league leaders in England, they are playing really good football, very physical, really stepping it up. We are looking forward to it."

If a beleaguered Jose Mourinho and his Manchester United were hoping for respite from their league travails in Europe, they failed to find it after landing French champions Paris Saint-Germain for the first time in a competitive fixture in the other glamour tie of the round.

The Red Devils face a formidable task against a side featuring Neymar and Kylian Mbappe - the world's two most expensive footballers - but PSG boss Thomas Tuchel refused to be lulled into a false sense of security surrounding the opposition's poor domestic form this season.

 
 

"It's always difficult to play Manchester United," said the German.

"They have lots of experience in this competition, they've won it numerous times. It's always difficult to play at Old Trafford, a big challenge. It's the same thing against Mourinho, you must have respect."

In other notable ties, three-time defending champions Real Madrid were pitted against Ajax, Manchester City against Schalke and Atletico Madrid against Juventus.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2018, with the headline 'Klopp set to renew rivalry'. Print Edition | Subscribe