It was that time of the season already, the heavyweight showdown. Pep Guardiola vs Jurgen Klopp, Manchester City vs Liverpool.
It is arguably the best game in the Premier League as they’ve been serious title challengers for the last few seasons.
Over the past few seasons we have seen these two teams go toe-to-toe for the title as well as Klopp getting the better of Guardiola in the Champions League. I’m sure no one can forget when Guardiola had guided his team to 14 straight Premier League wins to secure the title of the final day of the 2018-19 season.
But is this now the biggest game in world club football?
Guardiola vs Klopp
These two managers having been going at it for some time now, as the pair would face off in Germany where the pair managed Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich respectively. Their record in Germany was split evenly with each one winning the tie four times; however, Guardiola had won more trophies in that spell.
When the pair moved to England, it was clear Klopp had the biggest task as he had a squad boasting an attack of Milner, Origi and Lallana. Yes, Milner was a winger at one point in his career. On the other hand, Guardiola was fully backed by Sheik Mansour and splashed the cash as he moulded his team that would dominate England for a couple of years and still does.
However, Klopp has gotten the better of Guardiola more times here and has proven to be quite the challenger. After finally being able to transform his team by getting rid of players such as Mignolet, Sakho and Moreno the list could go on, and bringing in Mané, Salah, Van Dijk and talents through the youth such as Alexander-Arnold and Gomez. Liverpool were, ready.
Liverpool have come so far under Klopp, gaining 97 points in a campaign which is the third highest in Premier League history only not be able to lift the trophy at the end of the season as Manchester City had gathered 98 points. To add to this, Guardiola went on to win the domestic treble, a first for the history books. The 18/19 season was an outstanding advert for arguably the greatest league in the world.
The next season Klopp had continued his ruthlessness as his team steamrolled the Premier League as Guardiola’s side lost key men and dropped points on the regular as they went on to claim their first title for 30 years.
Is there any game that comes close to challenging the Guardiola vs Klopp regime?
The closest geographical contender could be the Old Firm contested by Rangers and Celtic. In their season having to play four times a season, winning those games gives that team a massive boost for the title. The actual impact, the two biggest clubs in Scotland, both situated in Glasgow it really does split the city and affects the way of living around there. However, Scottish football does not appeal to the global audience, there may be a few die-hard supporters’ groups located around the world but as a whole I believe it does not have the same reach.
Another contender that could be argued is der Klassiker, however this is has been overhyped in recent years as Dortmund have been the closest challengers to Bayern Munich over the past few years but with the emergence of RB Leipzig it seems that Dortmund seem to submit to Bayern and let them win. The overall dominance of Bayern though offers a fair argument as to why they win most times they encounter Dortmund.
One more game to consider before returning home is the El Classico, one of the most heated games in the world and it is again a game that tends to settle the title race, back when it was Guardiola vs Mourinho, Messi vs Ronaldo. This was a game of superstars and was contended in that fashion. Nowadays the game fails to live up to the hype and both clubs are in disarray. Real Madrid are still dealing with the loss of Ronaldo whilst Barcelona are in a crisis as their wage bill is crippling the clubs, finances as well as bad transfers and the prospect of Messi leaving the club indicates how far the club has fallen.
Finally, the game I believe to be the biggest game in world football is contested by Liverpool and Manchester United. I know this game no longer settles the title race but historically speaking this has such a rich history and a large fan base all over the world. It is estimated that 600-700 million viewers tune into the game. This game is built on history, the two most successful clubs of when football was played in much simpler times. The passion, the hatred that this two sides display show why it should deservedly be biggest game in world club football.
By Ben Scammell