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UCL: Klopp vs Zidane

As their respective teams, Real Madrid and Liverpool kicked-off at Kiev – sitting anxiously at the dugouts, Zinedine Zidane and Jürgen Klopp were fighting their own tactical battles, explores Daman Singh.

Much was at stake when the two heavyweights of European football – Real Madrid and Liverpool – faced off in Europe's most elite club competition finale at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev on May 26. A seemingly mouth-watering clash unfolded into a sombre night for Jürgen Klopp and his men while the Madrid camp rejoiced as Zinedine Zidane and his historic side clinched their record-breaking third successive Champions League title by toppling Liverpool who were hoping to lift the cup for the first time since 2007.


The finalists, under the supervision of their respective managers, had reached the desired destination after showcasing some praiseworthy performances. Once the eagerly awaited night arrived in Kiev, it also indisputably culminated into a battle of wits as two of world football's most notable personalities – all but adept in their business, wielding their footballing acumen to bring out the best of their immensely talented squads – were pitted against one another. Klopp and Zidane have also had two very disparate careers on their way to the top – commingled with the success they have shared in the past few years at the helm of the top-flight clubs.

Playing Career
Zinedine Zidane was one of the most gifted players of his time, well-known for his mesmerising control of the ball, a dazzling dribbler too and, not to mention, his unstoppable shots at the goal. The French playmaker was a popular figure at two of Europe's greatest clubs – Juventus and Real Madrid. He won pretty much everything there is to win, including the 2002 Champions League with Real by netting a memorable volleyed winner. Not to forget, his starring in the 3-0 triumph of the 1998 World Cup final over Brazil on home soil in which he scored a brace.
Jürgen Klopp began his 14-year career stint initially as a striker before turning into a defender at Mainz in the mid-nineties where he spent a large slice of his career. The German made 325 league appearances for Mainz during his tenure of 11 years there, scoring 52 times before retiring at the age of 34 to become the club's manager.
Managerial Career
Zidane made a flying start to his managerial career. A player well-acquainted with the pressure that emanates from representing Real Madrid, he smoothly made the transition into their coaching set-up. During Jose Mourinho's spell at the club, he was a special advisor to him and then, became the manager of the Real Madrid Casilla – the B team – in the summer of 2014. However, it led to some controversies, as he didn't have any concrete coaching qualifications. But, within the span of 18 months, he was appointed as Real Madrid's manager, replacing Rafael Benitez.
Inundating his side with fresh and bold ideas, Real notably pinned his first season by lifting the Champions League crown, defeating their city rivals Atletico on penalties in the Milan final. The season that followed was even more phenomenal as they went on to win the La Liga title, Fifa Club World Cup and, they also retained the Champions League title by thrashing Juventus in a 4-1 win to become the first team to retain the coveted trophy.
This success has lingered on to this season too, with the Los Blancos defeating PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich to enter the finale and, yet again, retaining the illustrious cup – their 13th European glory.


Klopp kickstarted his coaching career at his principle club Mainz and led them to the Bundesliga for the first time in 2004 and, notably, also guided them to the UEFA Cup the year earlier. Now, if bad times come to an end so do the good – they suffered relegation in 2007 but his efforts did not go in vain when Borussia Dortmund appointed Klopp as their manager in 2008. From then on, dawned the two seasons of noticeable improvement and top-six finishes, enabling Klopp to win back to back titles in 2010-11and 2011-12.

Dortmund was then among the most thrilling teams to watch in Europe, his success was imprinted onto the European scene as they reached the Champions League final in 2013, ultimately losing to bitter rivals Bayern Munich.
The German, being a popular figure at the club, announced he was to leave Dortmund at the end of the 2014-15 season and Liverpool moved to recruit him when Brendan Rodgers left the position vacant in October 2015. Upon arriving at the Merseyside club, Klopp infused a breath of fresh air around Anfield with Liverpool fans quickly establishing him in their hearts. He rewarded them with appearances in the League cup and the Europa League finals in his first season – though they lost both.
The energetic German has gradually revitalised Liverpool into an attractive, attack-minded team that has taken the Champions League by sheer surprise.
Medals Chalked Out
The former France skipper twice won the Serie A with Juventus and a La Liga with Real in the year 2003. Before this, the Spanish giants bagged the Champions League and they followed that up with the Intercontinental Cup. At the international scene, he inspired them to World Cup glory in 1998 and success in the European Championship in 2000.
Zinedine Zidane was also the winner of the Ballon d'Or in 1998 and was also named FIFA world player of the year three times – 1998, 2000, 2003.
His success as a coach has also been remarkable with three successive Champions League victories, back-to-back World Club wins and also the Spanish title.
As far as Klopp is concerned, in the context of medal collection, though he wasn't a shining star as a player – all that changed for good when he took the position in the dugout. He won promotion with Mainz into the Bundesliga in 2004 and also claimed two Bundesliga titles with Dortmund in 2010-11 and 2011-12 as well as the German Cup.
Playing Style
Under Zidane's guidance, Real Madrid has undergone a scintillating transformation cemented on their traditional attacking football, particularly with his man-management skills both on and off the pitch. In regard to the defence, however, question marks still hover, considering the goals Real had conceded in the Champions League games against Juventus and Bayern Munich.
With a galaxy of stars to choose from, the former Madrid midfielder has managed the big names of the club – Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Toni Kroos – alongside the likes of upcoming heavyweights Isco and Marco Asensio. Being a special player himself, Zidane knows exactly what is required to motivate individuals and fill them with confidence to derive the best out of them; and, this quality of his, in particular, has allowed the Frenchman to connect well with the players from day one, all the while balancing a leadership role and understanding the needs of his team.
The charismatic Jürgen Klopp has brought with him to Liverpool his trademark style of high intensity – the 'gegenpressing' approach which also pervaded his former club Borussia Dortmund during his spell there had proven to be influential in its success. The former black-and-yellows boss has implemented the same ideology at the Merseyside club and transformed Liverpool into a formidable team with the frightening trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and, of course, Mohammed Salah who have terrorised the opponents by mounting goals several times this season with their tremendous attacking display. He has also addressed the issues pertaining to the defence with the January signing of Virgil Van Dijk.

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