Julian Nagelsmann is about to get tested once again on the altar of one of his greatest colleagues, Jurgen Klopp when RB Leipzig face Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, February 16.
Julian Nagelsmann is a 33-year-old German football manager who is already making waves as one of the most unbeatable coaches across Europe. Last season, he was able to guide RB Leipzig to the semi-final stage of the Champions League, a feat a coach of his age has never achieved.
This season, the German tactician who started professional coaching at the age of 28 at Hoffenheim is attempting to go as far as he did in the European competition last season, but he has to go through his countryman, Jurgen Klopp.
Though Jurgen Klopp is 20 years older than Julian Nagelsmann, he and the Liverpool coach have had a lingering relationship on the pitch. For instance, the young coach was the victim of Jurgen Klopp’s tactical master class when Hoffenheim faced Liverpool in the Champions League in 2017. Klopp’s side defeated Nagelsmann’s side home and away.
With this history at the back of Nagelsmann’s mind, the German coach will lead RB Leipzig to Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary on Tuesday at 20:00 GMT, with caution. However, the young coach has mapped out how to overthrow Jurgen Klopp’s side which is currently struggling in the Premier League.
Julian Nagelsmann said: “Liverpool have struggled at times this season but they will try to press us very high, attack us very high. Our build-up game has to be quick and we have to make the right decisions. We also have to play some long balls into the deep space.
“There will be big phases where we have to defend deep because what they do is world-class. Their three forwards are very dangerous and very good.
“Our performance has to be very good to win the game. A very important part of being a manager is to study the opponents.”
Why Julian Nagelsmann rejected Real Madrid?
Julian Nagelsmann would have been one of the youngest individuals to ever coached Real Madrid in 2018. The club wanted him to replace Zinedine Zidane due to how well he helped Hoffenheim to remain relevant in the game despite the club’s low budget.
Instead of the 33-year-old coach joining the Spanish giants, he decided to move to RB Leipzig where he has continued to prove himself as a world-class coach.
Ahead of his meeting with Liverpool, Julian Nagelsmann said he had to reject the opportunity of coaching Real Madrid because he knew that it was not the right step for him at the time. He however noted that he would grab the offer if the opportunity comes again in the future.
“It is important to have a career plan, to make the right steps. I indeed had a phone call from Real Madrid. I was not the only one they got in touch with.
“They wanted to talk to me and get to know me and get to know my philosophy. I made the right decision, it was not that easy because Real Madrid are one of the biggest clubs.
“If they call me in the future perhaps the decision would be different, but two years ago it was the right decision. I had no time for preparation, no time to learn the language. I did not have a great experience at the international level.
“With Hoffenheim, we only won one continental game, so to be the next manager of Real Madrid was not the right next step. The step to go to Leipzig was better for my career.”