Jurgen Klopp is one of the biggest characters in modern football, with an unmistakable presence both in his style of football and off-field persona. He spent most of his playing career at Mainz 05, before taking over the club as manager following his retirement in 2001.
He guided the club to the Bundesliga for the first time in their history with his trademark brand of ‘heavy metal football’, and it wasn’t long before some of the biggest clubs in both Germany and Europe started to take note.
Now regarded as one of the best in the world, we look back at five of the defining games of his managerial career.
Five of Jurgen Klopp’s greatest managerial wins:
Borussia Dortmund 4-1 Real Madrid – 2012/13 UCL Semi-final
Borussia Dortmund appointed Klopp in 2008 after years of struggle both on and off the pitch, in which the Bundesliga giants had flirted with bankruptcy and relegation. It was therefore no small task to restore the club to its former glory, but it was one that Klopp not only embraced, but succeeded in emphatic fashion.
Klopp had assembled an exciting young side on a tight budget, bringing in the likes of Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan, and won back-to-back league titles. After domestic success, the club made their mark on the European stage in the 2012/13 season. They were drawn against Spanish giants Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals and produced a truly memorable display in the first leg at the Westfalenstadion.
Madrid couldn’t live with the high intensity football from Klopp’s side, as Robert Lewandowski produced one of the all-time great individual performances in the Champions League, scoring all four goals as Dortmund dismantled their opponents. The game was level at 1-1 at half-time, but Lewandowski netted three in the space of 17 minutes after the break, as the tie was all but put to bed in the first leg.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 24, 2021
Dortmund ultimately lost the showpiece game to rivals Bayern Munich, but their exhilarating football en route to the final had earned them a cult following across Europe, making household names of Klopp and his players.
Liverpool 4-3 Dortmund – 2015/16 UEL Quarter-final
Klopp moved to the Premier League in October 2015, taking over a Liverpool side struggling to reach the heights expected of them, with just one major trophy since 2006. His infectious personality immediately endeared him to the fans and it wasn’t long until he started to produce results on the pitch.
Still in his first season in charge, Klopp came up against his old side Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-finals. The tie was in the balance heading into the second leg at Anfield, following a 1-1 draw in Germany, but Liverpool found themselves 3-1 down at half-time and on the brink of elimination.
In the second half, Liverpool fought back with a resilience which would come to define the Klopp era on Merseyside. Phillippe Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho leveled the game at 3-3, before a dramatic last-gasp winner from Dejan Lovren sent the crowd into raptures, and the Reds into the semi-finals.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 14, 2023
Liverpool went on to lose in the Europa League final to Sevilla, but Klopp’s first European campaign with the club was an early indicator that the good times were heading back at Anfield.
Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona – 2018/19 UCL Semi-final
After suffering defeat in each of their first three major finals under Klopp, including the dramatic 2018 Champions League final, the Reds found another gear in the 2018/19 campaign and established themselves amongst the best sides in Europe.
In the midst of a titanic title race with Manchester City, Liverpool came up against Barcelona in the Champions League’s last four. Despite a strong performance, they suffered a 3-0 defeat in the first leg at the Camp Nou courtesy of a Lionel Messi masterclass. A seemingly insurmountable challenge was made all the more difficult by the absence of both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the return, but the self-proclaimed mentality monsters had other ideas.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) May 7, 2022
A first-half goal from Divock Origi got the ball rolling, before a quick-fire double from substitute Georginio Wijnaldum stunned the Spaniards to level the tie before the hour. A 3-0 win in itself would have been a remarkable result, but Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ingenious “corner taken quickly” set up Origi for his second goal of the night and Liverpool’s fourth.
Klopp went on to deliver Liverpool their sixth European Cup with a 2-0 win over Tottenham in Madrid, but it is the semi-final comeback which will go down as one of the most incredible matches the competition has ever seen, and one of the all-time great Anfield nights.
Liverpool 3-1 Manchester City – 2019/20 Premier League
One of the defining aspects of Klopp’s Liverpool tenure has been the intense rivalry with Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, with the clubs battling for the Premier League title on multiple occasions. After missing out by just a single point in the previous campaign, Liverpool rallied to go again in the 2019/20 season.
The Reds got off to a flying start, winning 11 of their first 12 league games before Manchester City’s visit to Anfield in November. Given how close the two sides were the previous year it felt like a potentially decisive game in the title race. It took just six minutes for Liverpool to find the net via a thunderous strike from Fabinho, and another six for Salah to double their lead.
Sadio Mane added a third and Liverpool ultimately ran out comfortable 3-1 winners, to open up an eight-point lead at the top and nine-point advantage over their beaten rivals.
Despite being so early on in the season, it felt like a seminal moment for Klopp’s side. Liverpool romped to their first league win in 30 years, breaking a host of records in the process, and Klopp cementing his legendary status at the club.
Klopp and Guardiola have faced each other more than any other manager in their respective careers, having gone head-to-head both in Germany and England. It is one of the great managerial rivalries of modern times, with Klopp boasting more wins against Pep than anyone else, but this decisive win is surely one of the standout results.
Liverpool 7-0 Manchester United – 2022/23 Premier League
The rivalry between Liverpool and Manchester United is one of the biggest in world football and one by which any manager of the great clubs is judged. In March 2023, Klopp delivered the most astonishing result in the history of this famous fixture, inflicting the joint-heaviest defeat in United’s history.
The 2022/23 campaign was a tumultuous one for Liverpool and Klopp was faced with the challenge of rebuilding his side, following a period of success which saw him lift every major trophy available. Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United came to Anfield on an 11-game unbeaten run and clear of their Merseyside rivals in the table, with Liverpool languishing outside the top four.
A day to remember.
We think you might enjoy these, Reds…😁 pic.twitter.com/ZqNYPMWTuI
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 5, 2023
After a relatively even first half, the Reds headed into the break 1-0 up, before a second-half demolition job which had to be seen to be believed. New signings Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo took starring roles, scoring two goals each as Liverpool delivered one of the most improbable scorelines in Premier League history.
The victory was Klopp’s seventh in 18 meetings against United and the latest in a line of high scoring wins over the Red Devils, with Liverpool having recorded an aggregate scoreline of 9-0 across the two meetings in the previous campaign. Klopp has seen great success in the fixture, but the 7-0 drubbing is one which will be remembered for decades to come.