Liverpool and Real Madrid are gearing up to do battle in what promises to be an epic Champions League final. Liverpool have played some incredibly entertaining football in their victories in the knockout stages, while Real Madrid have had to tough it out against Juventus and Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals and semifinals.
The focus has inevitably been on the players who will take the pitch in Kiev, but about the two gaffers?
Jurgen Klopp and Zinedine Zidane are two managers that have really excited neutral soccer fans with the way they organise their teams to play, but that is just one part of the battle. Here, we take a look at some additional battles between the two managers, and ask: who comes out on top?
Klopp played as both a striker and a defender, playing over 300 games for Mainz in Germany and scoring 52 goals for the side. Apart from that, Klopp didn’t really do too much in his playing career.
Zidane on the other hand, well, where do we begin? An attacking midfielder, Zidane donned the jerseys of four teams throughout his career. He began at Cannes, then made the move to Bordeaux in 1992. A move to Juventus in Italy happened four years later, and then he finished his career with Real Madrid. A much better CV of clubs if you ask us.
Zidane represented his native France over 100 times, and won the Champions League, La Liga, Serie A and also a World Cup in 1998 and a European Championship in 2000.
WINNER: Is it even a question? Zidane by a country mile.
SUCCESS AS A MANAGER
Klopp tasted his first bit of managerial success with Mainz, winning promotion from the 2. Bundesliga in 2004. In addition, Klopp oversaw one of the best, if not the best Borussia Dortmund team in recent history as he delivered two Bundesliga titles — in the 2010-11 season as well as 2011-12. To add to two Bundesliga titles, Klopp won the DFB-Pokal in 2011-12, the DFL-Supercup in 2013 and 2014 as well as guiding Dortmund to a Champions League final in the 2012-13 season.
As manager at Liverpool, Klopp has achieved an appearance in the final of the Europa League in the 2015-16 season and has now achieved a place in the final of the Champions League.
Zidane hasn’t been a manager for nearly as long as Klopp has, but in the short space that he has been gracing the touchline for Real Madrid, he has brought plenty of trophies home to the Bernabeu. A La Liga title in 2016-17, coupled with two consecutive Champions League titles in 2015-16 and 2016-17, is an incredibly impressive haul for a manager in just his third season at the helm.
WINNER: Sorry Klopp, but Zizou has your number again. Round 2 goes to everyone’s favourite French head-butting bald man.
Klopp has made his playing style a favourite for soccer fans all over the world. His gegenpressing, or as he likes to call it, "heavy metal football", sees plenty of attacking play and hard work from all of his players across the pitch. He loves to score plenty of goals, but with all of the attacking intent, it often can leave his defence quite exposed.
Zidane doesn’t necessarily have a perfectly outlined style of play. Instead, he is very flexible in terms of personnel and formations. He played a 4-3-3 formation against Atletico Madrid in the 2016 Champions League final, and then used a narrow 4-4-2 formation against Juventus in the last Champions League final. An often organised team, Zidane allows his impact players to often roam free across the field.
WINNER: Despite Zidane obviously achieving more success with his style of play, Klopp plays an exciting and attacking brand of soccer that everyone can enjoy. He wins this round.
Klopp can do it. Zidane cannot.
WINNER: Klopp by default.
So, with all of that said, this promises to be an incredible tactical matchup between two of soccer’s best managers right now. Who will come out on top? We have no clue, but make sure you tune in for the game, we promise you won’t regret it.