‘One of the best things you can do in football.’ said Jurgen Klopp when asked about what it means to play at the Signal Iduna Park, when the draw for the quarter finals of the Europa League was made back in March. The eagerly anticipated game is upon us. Thoma Tuchel vs Klopp, Borussia Dortmund vs Liverpool. ( Reus said it’s not Klopp vs BVB, so I won’t use that.)
It has nearly been a year since he last coached at the largest stadium in Germany. And a lot of things has happened since then. After a somewhat sad end to his 7 years tenure, with a Pokal final defeat to Wolfsburg, Klopp decided to have a break from management before deciding to cut it short and take over at Liverpool. While on the other side of the story Thomas Tuchel, the young version of Klopp as many called him (considering he followed Klopp at Mainz, and now at Dortmund) was getting ready for his new team.
Many fans and journalists agreed that Tuchel was the ideal successor to Klopp. But who would have thought that he would completely transform a team that was running out of ideas just a couple of months ago in to one of the most consistent teams in Europe?
Here at the business end of the season BVB are looking sharp as ever. Fighting for two cups and keeping a close eye on Bayern in the league, the Ruhr valley team is enjoying life under their new man.
While on the other hand Klopp had his share of ups and downs at his new home, and the fact that he didn’t have a preseason to build his team, didn’t help his cause. Strong performances followed by mediocre ones have been the norm during his stay at Merseyside, despite a marked change in belief and motivation. So it’s quite difficult to predict which Liverpool will show up on Thursday night….. the team that managed to produce high quality performances against the likes of Man City/Man United or the team that was beaten comprehensively by Watford/ Newcastle? But we can anticipate a high tempo game with Liverpool fighting for every ball and putting BVB under pressure from the get go. Whether that will work or not will remain to be seen.
The tie also provides Tuchel to show what he has managed to achieve so far at Dortmund. It just might be the game that will determine what the end of the season will hold for his team. The chance of securing a European trophy during his 1st season is enough motivation for the new man at the helm.
Besides all the ‘romantic’ stories surrounding this game both parties have their priorities straight. As BVB captain Mats Hummels has put it, there will be no friendship during the 90 minutes of the game.
Of course that doesn’t mean that we won’t look forward to the other aspects of the match that make this game special. The welcoming banner the Südtribune will/might display, the reverberating song of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ from both sets of fans, touch line encounters of former boss and players etc…
Emotions will be high, the stake higher, the past and the present will clash and what the future holds will be seen … ‘ A story only football can write…’
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Brook lives in Ethiopia, and started following the Bundesliga from a very young age. His favourite players then were Thomas Rosicky - the reason he became a Dortmund fan! - and Marcelinho of Hertha Berlin. He likes to watch, read, write and talk about football with special interest in discussing emerging young talents. Follow @brookge