Jurgen Klopp Tactics: Magician in Gegenpressing

Sat 16 October 2021 | 5:30

Jurgen Klopp is one of the best coaches in the world, but he has come a long way to get to where he is now. This part will go over Jurgen Klopp tactics in order to gain a better understanding of this fascinating trip.

We look at the finest managers in Premier League history in this series of essays, focusing on their philosophical and tactical career paths throughout the years. This article surveys Jurgen Klopp's career path. Perhaps many are curious regarding

Jurgen Klopp tactics at Liverpool

or even Jurgen Klopp tactics at Dortmund. Jurgen Klopp was essentially a one-club man as a player.

He flitted between amateur and semi-pro contracts after being rejected by childhood club Stuttgart. He was actually studying for a degree in sports business in Frankfurt when he was ultimately offered a full-time professional contract with Mainz 05 at the age of 23. His playing career was not particularly noteworthy. Compilations of satisfyingly well-hit volleys by a floppy-haired Klopp, who wheels away in what would later become a world-famous teeth-clenched, fist-pumping celebration, are easy to come by.

He was, however, a pretty average footballer with strong intelligence and a shaky first touch, as he conceded. Klopp's first managerial job was with Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga 2, where he had played for nearly a decade. His ability as a coach was evident early on, as he used his pressing and counter-pressing tactics while leading


to a fourth-place finish in his first entire season in charge, influenced by his old boss Wolfgang Frank.

For the first time in the club's history, he secured Bundesliga promotion in 2004. He became a cult hero in Mainz, and there was even talk of erecting a statue in his honor. Klopp quit as the club's longest-serving manager in 2008 after being relegated in the 2006-07 season. More than 20,000 people came to Mainz on May 23, 2008, to bid Klopp farewell. "You all made it possible for me to be what I am and capable of," he addressed the gathering.

Jurgen Klopp Tactics at Mainz: How Everything Shaped?

Klopp is the exact opposite of Pep Guardiola in terms of coaching style. He does like to build something and grow it to become a masterpiece finally, and this is the whole story about Jurgen Klopp tactics at Mainz. Many believe

Jurgen Klopp tactics

started here, while there is some truth to that now.

Klopp saved Mainz from relegation from the 2. Bundesliga to Germany's third division in his first season with the club. He produced well above expectations in the following two seasons, placing the club on the verge of promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time in its history but finishing one place behind promotion both times.

Mainz took their promotion bid to the final day of the season the following season, in true Klopp fashion, but they needed a win plus another result to go their way. He sought assistance from a player he had begun recruiting: current Colorado Rapids interim manager Conor Casey, a striker for

Karlsruher SC


"That week, I got a text from Klopp saying, 'come on now, help us out,'" says the narrator. "Last week, Casey told MLSsoccer.com. "We won 1-0, and I scored the winning goal. After that, there's a film of him on the field asking, "Who scored?" They informed him Casey, and he exclaims, "I adopt him!" in German. I signed the deal and was in Mainz a week later." 

Casey didn't realize it, but during three ultimately disappointing years under Klopp, he was learning the foundation of his coaching style – from a man who would go on to win two Bundesliga titles and reach three UEFA Champions League finals, the most recent of which will be played on Saturday in Madrid between Liverpool and Tottenham.

"Wolfgang Frank had a notion of football that was almost like a revolution in Germany based on the Arrigo Sacchi style of pushing and defending," said Peter Krawietz, Klopp's assistant manager at Liverpool. Casey's goal helped Mainz gain promotion to the Bundesliga. It will always be Klopp's best achievement, he argues.

The heavy metal collectivist football that would eventually propel Klopp to glory at Dortmund began at Mainz. They used a sweeper and defended in a man-marking system with no real organization before Frank's arrival. Mainz was a lousy squad with many inexperienced players who could rarely compete on an individual level.

When Frank took over, his methods were unconventional, and he was frequently referred to as "crazy." There were accusations that Frank's extremely compact team left one side of the flank exposed when defending the other after switching to an aggressive zonal defense that encouraged a collective press off the ball. Wolfgang Frank used this tactic on purpose.

The idea which took shape in

Jurgen Klopp tactics at Mainz

was the ball cannot travel at the speed of light from one side to the other. His defenders would have time to reorganize and guard the other flank, but achieving great results would take patience, comprehension of his methods, and excellent fitness levels in his players.

Frank's philosophies did not lead to Mainz's promotion, but they lay the groundwork for what would eventually become the cornerstone of a very excellent Mainz team under Jurgen Klopp.

Jurgen Klopp

learned how a mix of tactical awareness, fitness, passion, and intelligence might compensate for a team's lack of technical brilliance under Frank's tutelage.

Jurgen Klopp tactics

were all about pressing, work rate, pressing, and making the proper runs at the right time. In Klopp's opinion, tactics would become a friend of the underdog. Klopp resigned in 2008 as the club's longest-serving manager after being relegated in the 2006–07 season. Over 20,000 people came to Mainz on May 23, 2008, to bid Klopp farewell. He told the gathering, "You all made it possible for me to be what I am and capable of."

 The Journey of Jurgen Klopp Tactics at Dortmund


Jurgen Klopp tactics at Dortmund

is rooted in classic football. Jurgen Klopp announced his appointment as Dortmund manager on May 8, 2008. Jurgen Klopp Tactics at Dortmund was unique and based on some fundamentals, but in many ways also was quite complex.

It is important recalling that Borussia Dortmund was in decline when Jurgen Klopp was appointed - in 2007-08, they finished 13th, nine points ahead of relegated Nurnberg and 36 points behind champions

Bayern Munich


Klopp's goal was to restore a club that had recently emerged from financial catastrophe and lacked the financial means to compete for players in the transfer market. As a result, he devised a strategy based on Dortmund's junior players and less expensive senior players. Dortmund were a passionate and energetic squad under Klopp, who mastered the game's transitional phases.

Gegenpressing is the single tactical element that best describes Jurgen Klopp. All of Klopp's sides are known for rapid counters and counter-pressing, but Liverpool's pushing has been more controlled and refined than Dortmund's ultra-aggressive pressuring. With Klopp's arrival, the club was converted into a genuine title challenger.

Dortmund finished sixth with 59 points in his first season in charge, a 19-point increase over the previous season. Dortmund won the title in Klopp's third season in charge, ending with 75 points and the league's strongest defense, surrendering only 22 goals in 34 games. The Klopp era reached its pinnacle in 2012-13 when Dortmund won the domestic double and scored 80 goals.

It's debatable whether Klopp's Dortmund "knocked Bayern Munich off their throne," as Sir Alex Ferguson put it, but winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles, a DFB Pokal trophy, Dortmund's first win away from Bayern in nearly two decades (a 3-1 win at the Allianz Arena in February 2011), and a five-two thrashing of Munich in the cup final is no small feat.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the German's departure from Dortmund has made him a legend.


has not won a league title since then, and they are constantly looking for and appointing the next Jurgen Klopp.

All About Jurgen Klopp Tactics at Liverpool

Klopp had seized


fans' hearts from day one at Anfield, and not much has changed four years later. Jurgen Klopp's public presence is generous, quick-witted, charming, combative, fierce, warm, and honest, and he says of his players, "I'm their buddy, but not their best friend."

Klopp has modified his tactics at Liverpool. When he arrived from Germany, his attitude was to play "heavy metal football," which is defined as being physically fit, technically versatile, and capable of being shot out of a canon - frequently resulting in teams being blown out in the first thirty minutes or being caught off guard defensively and running out of legs offensively in the second half.

When it comes to Liverpool's greatest strength, they can function as a unit, which is partly owed to manager Jurgen Klopp's mentality. All of the players believe they are a part of something bigger than themselves, and as a result, they can successfully carry out their tasks within the group.

Other crucial characteristics that contribute to this outstanding team spirit are Klopp's genuine charisma and exemplary work ethic. As a result, players under Klopp demonstrate a high level of discipline in their positions and a desire to follow their coach's game plan.

Klopp's players are eager to go the extra mile to help their defense and create attacking passing possibilities wherever possible. The "Reds" frequently use a 4-3-3 configuration, which Klopp used at Borussia Dortmund. In Klopp's opinion, the foundation of a good game is an elite defense that can operate confidently and calmly while also operating aggressively.

Klopp ensures maximum stability by using defenders who are adept in one-on-one scenarios, can communicate with one another, and are willing to assist a teammate when needed. This consistency extends to the entire team, which works fiercely and relentlessly against the opposition in possession, leaving little room for the opposition to expand their game. When Liverpool start pressing, they use their physical strength to put the opponent under pressure until they can win the ball.

Klopp's favored style of play is highly hard-running attacking lines that put the opposition under pressure even when they are in their half. This means he can deploy proper offensive pressing in specific scenarios and for more extended periods of time if it fits into his overall game plan. Even when defending, the efficacy of offensive pressing is enhanced by attacking players' power in one-on-one scenarios, which is also needed to exploit quick transitioning play effectively. Klopp considers running ability to be a must-have.

This exemplifies his dependence on a hard-running midfield behind the offensive line of a 4-3-3 that can cover large distances, either to support colleagues in attacking or to stabilize the defense. In general, Klopp's style of play can be seen in the team's vitality and quick pace in both the Champions League and the

Premier League

. Liverpool has successfully adjusted their pressing strategy and point of attack to the front or back depending on what works and what is suited for the opponent on several occasions. The squad can rapidly pivot from offensive pressing to immediately pressuring the opposing players in midfield (man-to-man). 

To do so, the Reds seek out and exploit pressuring prey, particularly against lesser Premier League opponents. Liverpool, in current times, is a well-oiled machine that can win football matches in a variety of ways. Firmino is the ideal number-nine player, a goal-scoring machine.

Mane and

Mohamed Salah

are two of Europe's best wingers. Robertson and Arnold, the fullbacks, are perhaps the greatest in Europe. The addition of Thiago Alcantra from Bayern Munich strengthens an already potent midfield. Even when they aren't playing well, this Liverpool team can resist pressure, counterattack with precision, hold possession, defend set-pieces, score from set-pieces, and win games.

Historically a project manager, Klopp spent seven years at Mainz, seven years at Borussia Dortmund, and is now in his sixth year in charge of Liverpool. He is by all accounts a personal manager, someone who is protected by the fans, by the very embodiment of the club.

Klopp then transitions to speedy transitional play in the offensive from this fundamental defense-oriented formation. Liverpool frequently plays over the middle positions and swiftly onto the front line, hoping to sneak behind the opposing players with a few passes. It is here that the players' running ability will be put to the test. The attackers can build holes behind the opponent's lines and use gaps between opposing players with a lot of hard work. Fullbacks shift further up the field to achieve the required width in a match.

This increases the chance of counter-attacking situations out wide, which is why Klopp needs very intelligent central midfielders who can detect and fill gaps in their defense fast, which is the only way to minimize any possible risk to a manageable level. CentrLikeil van Dijk, must Central defenders be able to pass accurately and forcefully over long distances. This allows rapid midfield bypasses (playing over the opponent's line) and direct pressure on the opposing defense.

Wingers are frequently the recipients of passes in offensive half-spaces. Wingers can gain the necessary advantage over opposition players by moving away from the sideline and towards the center. This allows the players to take control of midfield in the first phase and then be available for passes from the ball-carrier striker. Even if the first pass, which is generally long-distance from a central defender, does not go where it should, having men near the ball who can then try to win it back is beneficial.

In order to do so, the tight formation indicated before as the foundation for any counter-pressing is critical. Klopp frequently instructs his team to play vertically courageously, and at high risk when the center midfielders get possession in the opponent's half. Wingers allow midfielders to play deep and swiftly by making well-timed runs behind the opposing defense. 

This strategy works well against teams that don't often defend deep, and it's especially effective when Liverpool is up against equally solid opponents or when the opposing defense isn't fully organized in a given situation. Jurgen Klopp's offensive players are in possession frequently change places on the pitch, demonstrating how crucial dynamism is to the German manager. Klopp is a movement maker.

Another feature of Klopp's style of play that he employs regularly is overloading the opponent. Klopp frequently switches from build-up play to direct counter-pressing in these instances. When in possession, players don't simply plan their following actions to keep the ball but also position themselves to win the ball back quickly if they lose it, putting immediate pressure on the opponent.

This makes it more difficult for them to build up and enhances the chances of obtaining control near the goal. This type of counter-pressing is Jurgen Klopp's most effective offensive weapon. If the attack fails and the ball is lost, the players immediately return to action and potentially reclaim possession in the opposition half. The distance to the opposition goal is covered with only a few passes, resulting in scoring possibilities.

Important Thing about Jurgen Klopp Tactics at Liverpool: Gegenpressing

Rome was not built in a day, and this is the story of

Jurgen Klopp tactics

. Gegenpressing (German meaning "counter-pressing") is a tactical theory popularized by Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool clubs. The philosophy's core idea is that teams should not only press their opponents but also do it with extra focus and zeal while the ball is in opposition territory, effectively countering the counter-attack.

It necessitates a lot of running from the forward line, as they are advised to close down opposing defenders quickly in order to induce an error while attempting to play the ball out from the back. Klopp elaborated: "Gegenpressing allows you to win the ball back closer to the goal. It's only one wrong move away from a fantastic chance. No playmaker in the world can match a solid counter-pressing situation, which is why it's so crucial."

The challenging pressing game is structured because it targets weak links in the defense - those who are least adept on the ball, for example - and it involves meticulous risk calculation. While maintaining a high level of pressing throughout the game is vital in Gegenpressing, players must judge when to fall back into a defensive stance to conserve energy. If a team is utterly tired or prone to injuries, it simply cannot perform.

Gegenpressing works best with a front three that is speedy and fit, and inventive enough to take advantage of mistakes with a decisive pass or clinical finish. Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah of Liverpool have become symbols of the style thanks to their contributions to the Premier League club's success, which saw them win the Champions League in 2019 and emerge as a counterweight

Pep Guardiola

's Manchester City.

Jurgen Klopp is sometimes credited with inventing Gegenpressing, and the Schwarzwald native undoubtedly put his touch on a long-standing tradition of pressing football.

The concept of pressing - or "closing down," as known in the old days of football - is a fundamental part of the game. While Klopp has become synonymous with it, he is just the latest in a long line of coaches who have made pressuring opponents a priority in their philosophies. Wolfgang Frank, his mentor at Mainz, was a firm believer in the pressing game, and Frank had been highly influenced by renowned

AC Milan

and Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Rossoneri became the ultimate purveyors of the pressing game under Sacchi, winning two European Cups and a Serie A title. According to the Italian coach, pressing is more than just going after the opponent; it's also about "controlling space" and, ultimately, controlling the game in the minds of the opposing side.

In Jonathan Wilson's Inverting the Pyramid, Sacchi says, "If we let our opponents play the way they're used to, they'll gain confidence, but if we stop them, they'll lose confidence." "That was the key: as much as it was physical, our pressuring was psychological." Other coaches, including Marcelo Bielsa, can claim to be the master of the pressing game, with his dogmatic adoption of a crucial style.

Guardiola, who created a high-pressing game while managing Barcelona, and

Jose Mourinho

, whose Porto squad of the early 2000s was particularly good at pushing opponents into errors by pressing, are two other famous examples.

Klopp has utilized counter-pressing with every team he has coached. He tested the plan at Mainz before constructing a totem to represent his vision at Borussia Dortmund. Klopp's press-heavy style became known as 'Heavy Metal Football' at Dortmund, where he won two Bundesliga titles and had a remarkable if ultimately doomed, run to the Champions League final in 2013.

When asked about Arsene Wenger's Arsenal style of play in 2013, Klopp claimed that the Frenchman's sides are "amazing." "It has the sound of an orchestra, yet it is a silent melody. I prefer hard metal. It's always noisy for me." Klopp has chiseled the Anfield club in his image since taking over as manager in 2015, and the Gegenpressing style is a big part of that.

Klopp's style of football has inspired other coaches, who have adopted the concept into how their teams play, much as he is a student of tactics who owes a lot to Frank and Sacchi. Jupp Heynckes used a counter-press in his treble-winning Bayern Munich team, and RB Leipzig uses a similar strategy under

Julian Nagelsmann

, whose Hoffenheim club did the same.

It would be unfair not to mention Klopp's name besides "Heavy Metal Football" style. He is some kind of a master at it. Of course, with all due respect to his idols. Regarding Heavy Metal Football, the theory is that the best time to win the ball is right after your team has just lost it, while the opposing team is still orienting itself. That's the kind of football Jurgen Klopp likes to play. Heavy Metal Football is what it's called.

When asked to compare his style of play to Arsenal's, Jurgen Klopp replied that Arsenal's style of play is more like an orchestra playing a peaceful song, whereas he prefers loud metal.

A Conclusion on Jurgen Klopp Tactics

Klopp's Dortmund focused heavily on transition times from a tactical point, and Klopp's Liverpool followed suit, which worked out brilliantly. In fact, all the success in the club can sum up in

Jurgen Klopp tactics

. Klopp worked particularly hard to enhance his team's defensive transitions. To regain possession of the ball, his strategy was to press the opposition quickly.

Overall, he has always stayed true to his values while continuing to grow. While Klopp's philosophy still emphasizes "Gegenpressing," his attacking style has changed slightly. Klopp's team has become even more dangerous as a result of their increased attacking variety. Liverpool's current success could be attributed to their better attacking phase.

To summarize, Klopp is a visionary who is continually looking for ways to better. Despite the fact that our analysis focused mostly on his attacking and defensive concepts, he also improved his set-piece techniques with the support of external instructors such as a throw-in coach. As a result, one can be sure that Klopp's tactic growth path is far from over.

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