Pep Guardiola hopes not to be on the receiving end of another lesson from Jurgen Klopp when Manchester City travel to face Liverpool and a man he believes to be the best out-and-out attacking coach in world football.
Guardiola and Klopp sparred memorably during their time in charge of Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
The head-to-head concluded at four wins apiece, with Dortmund triumphing on penalties in the semi-final of the DFB-Pokal in 2015 before losing the final to Wolfsburg.
That compounded a trophy count weighted in Guardiola’s favour as he claimed a domestic double in 2013-14 before retaining the Bundesliga title as Klopp headed for the Dortmund exit door.
But the Signal Iduna Park club did celebrate back-to-back German Super Cup triumphs over their bitter rivals, including a 4-2 dismantling in Guardiola’s first match in the Bayern hotseat – a defeat still fresh in the former Barcelona boss’ memory ahead of Saturday’s blockbuster clash.
“I learned a lot in Germany the first time I played against him in the Super Cup. I was new there so, wow, it was a good lesson for me in that game,” said Guardiola, who is gunning for City’s first win at Anfield since 2003.
“We lost 4-2 in the Super Cup and after in the league I learned to control a little bit those situations, but it is not easy.
“When he speaks about his football as ‘heavy metal’ I understand completely because it is so aggressive in that sense. For the spectators and the fans it is really, really good.”
Guardiola declined to assign a musical genre to his own famed approach as he considered the challenges of a game he believes to be “like a final”, in the context of a title race where Chelsea lie six point clear of Liverpool and seven better off than his own side.
“I like a lot the way [Liverpool] play because for the spectators, in three or four seconds they are attacking,” he said, with such an approach having condemned Manuel Pellegrini’s City to chastening 4-1 and 3-0 Premier League losses last term.
“Maybe he is the best manager in the world who creates a team attacking the back four with this amount of players, with this intensity with and without the ball.
“It is not easy to do that. They attack there [down the middle]; wide sometimes with [Nathaniel] Clyne and [James] Milner, but especially they attack inside and they do it really well.
“I think there is not another team in the world attacking with so many players inside.”
Guardiola’s options for getting at the heart of the Liverpool defence will be significantly boosted by Sergio Aguero’s return from a four-match suspension.
City’s top scorer has 16 goals in as many starts across all competitions this season, but retrospective punishment for an elbow on West Ham defender Winston Reid and an ugly lunge on Chelsea’s David Luiz have resulted in him being banned for seven domestic games.
“We made quite good results in the seven games without him, but of course he is so important for us,” said Guardiola, whose record reads won five and lost one in the Premier League without Aguero, while Swansea City were dispatched as the Argentina star sat out a third-round EFL Cup tie.
“Can you imagine all the teams in the Premier League when their best striker, almost their best player does not play in seven games?
“It would be tough for them, it was tough for us, but we are there. We are just one point down from Liverpool, in front of the other teams.
“Hopefully in the second [half of the season] Sergio can play all the games.”