Reds boss expects difficult return

'Juergen Klopp derby' will be an emotional welcome for the former Dortmund manager

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp will face an emotional return to Signal Iduna Park when his side face Dortmund in their Europa League quarter-final, first-leg match today.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp will face an emotional return to Signal Iduna Park when his side face Dortmund in their Europa League quarter-final, first-leg match today.PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN • Juergen Klopp admits he will have a hard time keeping his emotions in check when his Liverpool side travel to Borussia Dortmund for their Europa League quarter-final, first-leg tie today.

The Reds manager enjoyed seven stellar years at the Westfalenstadion and can expect a warm welcome in Dortmund ahead of the return leg at Anfield on April 17.

The 48-year-old steered Dortmund to the 2011 Bundesliga title, the league and Cup double in 2012 and the 2013 Champions League final before walking away at the end of last season. But he admits entering the Dortmund stadium again, this time as the away coach, will be a challenge.

"To blend out all the trapping could be very difficult," said Klopp, who still knows the majority of the stadium staff - "even the parking attendants".

Dortmund's home leg has already been dubbed the "Juergen Klopp derby" and been the subject of much hype in the German media.

German broadcaster Sport1 is even focusing one of its cameras on Klopp for the entire game. Viewers can choose to train their eyes on the Liverpool manager for the match by selecting "Klopp cam".

Prior to kick-off, there promises to be a special atmosphere, with fans of both clubs set to sing their adopted anthem You'll Never Walk Alone.

Dortmund might be the favourites, but their chief executive, Hans-Joachim Watzke, believes Klopp's cult status at his former club could give the Reds an edge.

"I fear that Klopp is trying to lull us into a false sense of security and that he will try to get our fans on his side to ensure that the match feels like a friendly," he said.

"I would like to see that our fans pay their respects to Juergen after the game but not before and not during it. We must stand together to be able to beat a club like Liverpool."

Klopp is not the only visitor who knows Dortmund well.

Midfielder Emre Can played for Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga before his move to England in 2014, and is mindful about the tactics employed by Klopp's successor Thomas Tuchel.

"I played a few times against Dortmund so I know they're very strong," he told Liverpool's official website. "They press well, they can play football, and they have a good striker in (Pierre-Emerick) Aubameyang - he can always score.

"(Tuchel's teams) run a lot, I think. He likes when they run a lot, and they counter-attack - in Mainz it was the same - they have very good players who can play on the counter."

Liverpool have been boosted by the return of forward Roberto Firmino - another Bundesliga export. The former Hoffenheim man, who has not played since the second leg in the last round at Old Trafford against Manchester United owing to a hamstring injury, travelled with the squad yesterday after passing a fitness test.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2016, with the headline 'REDS BOSS EXPECTS DIFFICULT RETURN'. Subscribe