Fenway Sports Group (FSG) – the Owners of Liverpool Fc maintains cordial business relationship with Red Bull Company. The Austrian Company owns RB Leipzig and FC Red Bull Salzburg.
As such, there is always a sense of inevitability of Liverpool Fc facing RB Leipzig at some point of time.
After Liverpool Fc were drawn to face RB Leipzig by UEFA for the Champions League 2020-21 Round of 16, that sense of inevitability became a reality. The pair will meet for the first time on 16 February 2021.
It is not just the battle of two Clubs with similar attacking philosophies and business strategies but it might very well be the future of Liverpool Fc (The Reds) Coach in the making.
RB Leipzig under the highly-rated Julian Nagelsmann have been known to switch between a back 3 and a back 4 in the Champions League. Depending on the Opponent, they have also known to employ both the 4-3-3 Formation and 4-2-3-1 Formation much like the Reds.
Jürgen Klopp and Nagelsmann clashed first when the Reds faced TSG 1899 Hoffenheim to qualify for a spot in the Champions League 2017-18 Group Stage. Klopp guided the Reds as they won 6-3 on aggregate over two legs.
Klopp’s current contract is valid until June 2024. Yet, there were indications from the Charismatic Coach that he might not want to prolong his contract after June 2024.
Also, if things don’t pan out the way as expected, he might even leave earlier than expected. This was what happened with Borussia Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund fared well during the early part of Klopp’s Managerial tenure but the German left the Club, when the results were on the decline.
Furthermore, there were some predictions that if Joachim Löw’s Managerial tenure as Germany National Team Coach abruptly ends, then Klopp might consider leaving the Reds.
Under Klopp and despite the mounting injuries to Key Players, the reigning English and World Champions have been consistently performing well. Klopp himself is fully focused on the task at hand.
As such, Fenway Sports Group (FSG) themselves are not too concerned about the Reds current form and they feel relaxed about Klopp’s immediate future.
This is why the Champions League Round of 16 Clash with RB Leipzig is much more important than expected as that will bring Julian Nagelsmann.
When Klopp does decides to leave the Reds, there are a few former Reds Players (like Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso) and other Managers (Antonio Conte, Massimiliano Allegri, Thomas Tuchel and others) that are being linked with the Reds Head Coach position.
Still, only Naglesmann’s style of play is similar to Klopp. So, in every sense; when RB Leipzig plays the Second Leg at Anfield, Nagelsmann might be auditioning per se for the position as the future Reds Manager.
Prior to becoming a Manager, Naglesmann had no senior playing career as an unfortunate knee injury forced him to retire at the age of 20.
However, Klopp himself was not an accomplished player before becoming the legendary Manager that he is known today.
Besides being an avid student of the game, Nagelsmann is an innovative coach with excellent Man Management Skills. In an attempt to hone his Man Management, Naglesmann even tried his hand at horse training.
During his managerial stint with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, using drones and fixed cameras to make live footage for in-depth analysis, Nagelsmann installed an enormous video wall next to the training pitch.
This proves Nagelsmann’s keenness to implement state of the art of technology as a means to iron out the deficiencies and improve the squad.
This resembles the legendary Bill Shankly as he implemented his methods and modernise the Former Melwood Training Ground that then became the foundation of every Reds success.
Nagelsmann is younger than James Milner but the German has proven to be a successful manager throughout his brief career.
Before Naby Keïta, Takumi Minamino and Sadio Mané joined the Reds, the trio plied their trade playing for RB Leipzig and FC Red Bull Salzburg. This further validates the sort of Players both RB Leipzig and the Reds seek.
To achieve positive results with greater consistency; both the Reds and RB Leipzig have both tactically evolved over the years as they have diverted slightly from the philosophies that formed the basis of their rise to the top end of the European table.
Through utilising the square passes for game control, both the sides have shown maturity and gained the benefits of evolved dominant Possession based tactics while retaining the attacking football aspect.
All these only augments to the significance of RB Leipzig clash as Klopp will face his potential successor.
Verdict: Nagelsmann surely would have learnt from his last encounter when he was the Manager of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim for their clash against the Reds (Champions League 2017-18 Third Round).
With a better squad at his disposal, the Nagelsmann will surely feel more confident about his side’s chances and hope to overcome his fellow countryman.
As such, the Champions League 2020-21 Round of 16 Match between RB Leipzig and the Reds will certainly be a fascinating tie as that pits against Nagelsmann who might become the future Reds Manager.