Comparing Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund under Klopp

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After three English Premier League games, Liverpool find themselves atop the table with as many wins and with superior goal difference against their closest rivals, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.

One of the biggest reasons behind the Reds’ resurgence is in their manager, Jurgen Klopp. His infectious football philosophy and hard-nosed approach to the game has reflected well on the current group of players making everyone believe that this could be their chance for Premier League glory.

Klopp is not new to big games and building championship-level teams. Before his time at Anfield, he was one of the top managers in the German Bundesliga, helping Borussia Dortmund win two league titles and a number of other accolades.

He certainly has a knack for finding the best talent that would fit his system and it seems that he has finally found the perfect fit for Liverpool to march forward in the Premier League.

With that in mind, many are now comparing his current Liverpool squad to the championship-winning Borussia Dortmund squad he had from 2010-12. Which is the better team?

GOALKEEPING

Starting from the back, if Dortmund and Liverpool were being compared last year, then it would be a much easier discussion to have. The Reds’ boss had Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet as his keepers and both were decent on their best day.

Unfortunately, consistency was a problem and Klopp seems to have figured it out by bringing in Alisson Becker from AS Roma. With the Brazilian in tow, the Reds now have a strong figure between the sticks and the first three games of the Premier League season has shown what he has to offer – three clean sheets and a number of decent saves.

Back in Germany, Klopp had the veteran presence of Roman Weidenfeller. The German shot-stopper was a very experienced keeper and was reliable when needed. Even before Klopp arrived at Dortmund, Weidenfeller was already the first-choice keeper and maintained his job through Klopp’s championship run.

Alisson definitely has the better skill-set and potential but Weidenfeller had already established the leadership role and a veteran voice in the Dortmund locker room with Klopp at the helm and that is not to be disregarded.

In fact, Weidenfeller was excellent in 2010 as he only allowed 21 goals in 33 Bundesliga appearances, keeping 14 clean sheets along the way.

Alisson is definitely on course to do the same, but he has yet to face stiff competition in the Premier League. The only thing separating the two is the experience in the squad and until the Brazilian shines against the top teams in the league, Weidenfeller has the slight advantage.

DEFENCE

With Alisson’s lack of experience with Klopp as the only reason he was picked over Weidenfeller, the same cannot be said in comparing Liverpool and Dortmund’s defence.

Back in 2010, the German outfit had one of the best defences in the world. As mentioned above, Dortmund rarely allowed goals in the Bundesliga. In fact, they only allowed 22 league goals during the first of back-to-back titles.

Credit should be given to players like Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic who were incredible and very disciplined as they held their lines. Lukasz Piszczek was another reliable player in Dortmund’s defence as he held the right-back position well.

As for the Reds, the arrival of Virgil Van Dijk certainly helped their back-line have some sense of leadership and physicality readily available. Before his arrival, Klopp had difficulty finding the perfect match between Dejan Lovren, Joel Matip, the young Joe Gomez and then-Red Ragnar Klavan.

However, it appears that Van Dijk can play with anyone and the fact that he and Gomez have formed a decent partnership – resulting in three clean sheets just shows how much the Reds’ defence has improved.

Add the fact that young stars like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson have also emerged as great defenders on the wings, Liverpool have finally found the balance that could compete against Klopp’s Dortmund defence.

The Reds’ defence looks promising and if they can continue to keep goals at bay like they have in the first three Premier League games this year, then they can be picked over Dortmund’s defence in 2010. Until then, the German back line is still the standard to follow.

MIDFIELD

So far, Klopp’s Dortmund squad have had the slight advantages as compared to the current Liverpool roster. However, the midfield is where the Reds may swing the tide their way as they are really deep with talent across all positions.

Klopp has been able to make the most of players he has, and this season promises to be one of the best, and things are certainly a little more exciting in the midfield. The Merseyside outfit still has most of the core it’s always had, with Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum still playing key roles for the team.

However, the German added depth to the squad and Liverpool are seemingly free of holes in the midfield with the arrival of players like Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho.

With the mixture of veteran players and newcomers, the Reds have found a solid crop of players who can control the game and execute Klopp’s tactics to perfection. Add the fact that Fabinho and Shaqiri have yet to really make an impact in the Reds’ matches just shows how much talent Klopp has in the Liverpool squad.

As for Dortmund, there are certainly still big names in the club like Shinji Kagawa, Marco Gotze, Sven Bender and Nuri Sahin. The biggest difference is that most of these players were still emerging during Klopp’s time with the club. They certainly went on to be big names, but compared to the impact Liverpool’s midfield has given the team so far, the Reds creative players are given the nod here.

ATTACK

Finally, the attacking options between the two teams tell different tales from either side of the spectrum.

During the 2010-11 season, Dortmund brought in Robert Lewandowski and the Polish striker has made a name for himself as one of the best in the world. However, during his first season under Klopp, he was merely a young striker with a lot of potential. Lewandowski would go on to fulfil that potential the following year, scoring 22 goals in 30 Bundesliga appearances.

In their first Bundesliga title run, Lucas Barrios was the team’s top scorer as he netted 16 league goals in 32 appearances. Unfortunately, he would fail to replicate that form in the second of their back-to-back title run as he scored once in 16 Bundesliga games.

For the Merseyside club, the collective comprised of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane is widely considered one of the best attacking trios in the world today.

At the helm was Salah who arrived last year and hit the ground running as he scored 32 goals in 35 Premier League appearances. Firmino was second with 15, while Mane contributed 10 to help the team through the Premier League.

The three are undoubtedly the top picks for Liverpool’s attack and this year is no different as Salah already has two goals to his name while Mane already scored three. Firmino has yet to break the drought but has been crucial in the build-up, making Klopp’s attacking choices very easy to pick.

Boasting pace, skill, creativity and great chemistry, the Liverpool attack is certainly getting the nod between the two heavyweight line-ups.

CONCLUSION

There are so much more talking points to consider for Liverpool’s credit, as well as Dortmund’s pedigree. Klopp has certainly established the German team as one of the best in Germany, and is seemingly doing the same in his quest to help Liverpool become the best in England.

Both sides have realistic claims to consider them over the other, but Liverpool are only three games deep in the Premier League and need more matches against top competition to really be dissected against back-to-back Bundesliga winners Dortmund.

If the Reds end up winning the Premier League, then it would be much easier to compare a title-winning run from either sides to measure just how much of a football genius Klopp may be.

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