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Thomas Tuchel has emerged from Jurgen Klopp’s shadow to create his own legacy

Thomas Tuchel will have the chance to show Jurgen Klopp he has fully emerged from his shadow when Liverpool host Chelsea in Thursday’s Premier League showdown.

Tuchel followed in Klopp’s footsteps as the two rose to managerial prominence through the Bundesliga – but at Anfield they face each other as equals, with both battling it out for Champions League qualification.

There are clear parallels between the careers of the two men. Both were defenders, and both enjoyed average lower-league playing careers – with Tuchel’s cut short by injury in his mid-20s.

They are even the same height, standing tall at 6ft 4in.

And both began their respective journeys to managing in England’s top flight through their impressive work at Mainz 05.

Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel met in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2016

Klopp led Mainz into the Bundesliga, before suffering relegation again.

After they were promoted again under Jorn Anderson, it was Tuchel who established them in the top flight before succeeding the Liverpool-bound Klopp as Borussia Dortmund boss in 2015.

Tuchel was unable to match Klopp’s two successive title triumphs amid Bayern Munich’s dominance, but he inherited a team which had finished seventh the previous season and guided them to runners-up spot with the second highest points tally in the club’s history.

His approach at Dortmund was based not on changing the approach of his predecessor, but refining it.

Observers noted that while Klopp’s side could often appear chaotic, driven by emotion, Tuchel’s setup was more structured, more patient.

Thomas Tuchel led Dortmund to the German Cup in 2017 (Photo credit should read TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Tuchel led Dortmund to the German Cup but was described by one player as ‘a dictator’

One of his first acts as Dortmund boss was to change the club chef and impose small but significant diet changes in the club canteen.

He was described by one former player as “a dictator”, but insists himself that he is not a “micro manager.”

Tuchel has a strong background in youth development, having began his coaching career with Stuttgart’s U15 side and also taken charge of Mainz’s U19s.

At Dortmund, that was evidenced by his promotion and faith in the likes of Julian Weigl (20), Christian Pulisic and Felix Passlack (both 17).

Klopp, of course, did similar with Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Mario Gotze and co, with spectacular results – before doing the same with Trent Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool.

Tuchel helped to develop Christian Pulisic, who is now his player at Chelsea

Tuchel’s Dortmund faced Klopp’s Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals in 2016 – with the Reds squeezing through 5-4 on aggregate after an Anfield comeback and an injury-time winner from Dejan Lovren.

Like Klopp, Tuchel’s philosophy revolves around humility, teamwork, pressing and speed, both of foot and mind. His emphasis on pace saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang score 56 goals in 63 league appearances under Tuchel before joining Arsenal.

Like most, Tuchel reveres the off-the-ball work of Pep Guardiola’s teams. Famed for the depth of his video analysis and thorough preparation, the 42-year-old is certainly a more methodical figure than the “heavy metal” Klopp.

He doesn’t drink, he collects antique furniture and he boasts a degree in English. He draws inspiration and ideas from unusual places – studying psychology, nutrition and statistics as well as sports such as volleyball and basketball.

Aubameyang helped Tuchel win the cup and scored 56 goals in 63 league appearances

But his time at Dortmund was to come to an end when he was sacked after the end of his second season, despite having led the side to their first trophy in five years when they won the German Cup.

A year later, he took charge of Paris-Saint Germain, and would go on to win two successive Ligue 1 crowns and four other trophies before leading the French club to last year’s Champions League final.

In the meantime, of course, Klopp won the Champions League with Liverpool, guiding his side to the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup within six months before ending the Reds’ 30-year title drought.

And Dortmund have since been Bayern’s biggest challengers in the Bundesliga, regularly qualifying for the Champions League and finishing second for the past seasons.

The United legend recorded 2.19 points per win over 798 Premier League games – but Klopp has 2.21 following the title-winning season
Klopp still has the edge over Tuchel in terms of silverware won

In terms of trophies won, Klopp still has the edge over the man who treaded the same path through his early managerial career.

But Thursday’s clash at Anfield gives Tuchel the opportunity to show his trailblazing predecessor that he is now ready to match him blow for blow.

As former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin told the London club’s official website: “Tuchel v Klopp could end up being one of the great rivalries in the Premier League over the next few years, and this first instalment is unmissable.”




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