Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has described Thursday’s Europa League round of 16, first leg clash against old rivals Manchester United as the ‘mother of all football games’.
The Reds host the Red Devils at Anfield on Thursday night as both teams face each for the first time in European competition and despite suggestions of it being a less significant game given both team’s recent decline and the fact that it’s in Europe’s second tier club competition, Klopp believes it is a glamour fixture and will prove better than some Champions League games.
“The mother of all football games,” was how he described it. “I’ve seen a lot of rubbish games in the Champions League,” added Klopp. “It’s not about the tournament, it’s about the teams involved.
“The Europa League is a long tournament but we can see the finish and there are only top quality teams left. From now on, it’s like a little Champions League.
“Sitting on the bench for Liverpool against Man United is one of the best things I can imagine. I hope it’s not the biggest game in my Liverpool career, but it’s really important.”
Both Liverpool and Manchester used to be European superpowers, as they have eight Champions League and 38 League titles between them but have struggled in recent years, and as a result, have fallen down the pecking order.
And Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal is all too aware of this, when he urged their fans to stop living in the past and embrace their present realities.
“It was another time. You have to live in the present. Other teams are in the Champions League. You are talking about Manchester United and Liverpool, and we are happy to play in the Europa League,” he said.