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Klopp on 'strong and quick' Chelsea, 'Pep Guardiola of Juve' Antonio Conte, and 'world class' Diego Costa

Antonio Conte vs. Jurgen Klopp: The respectful passion-off

Should the action on the pitch on Friday night not live up to expectations, at least we can rest assured that there will be drama on the touchlines, with Klopp and Conte dancing, yelling, gesticulating, jumping around all night.  That potential drama just adds to the sense of occasion created by the newfangled Friday night scheduling, not to mention the improving fortunes of the two Premier League heavyweights.

Through the first four matches, both the Blues and the Reds are looking like serious contenders for a top four spot, with solitary slip-ups against Swansea City and Burnley, respectively, the only true blemishes on their records so far.  Chances are, both teams will be at their best to avoid another shock result, and with Steven Gerrard long gone, Chelsea can no longer count on another fortunate slip.

While the build-up to the passion-off has already started, the coaches themselves have been at their respectful best.  Conte has yet to address the media, though given his previous interactions, we shouldn't expect any Mourinho-esque sniping.  Klopp has no doubt either that the respect he's affording Chelsea and Conte will be returned in kind.

Klopp, just like Conte, is a no-nonsense guy who tells it like he sees it -- while being more comfortable with speaking in English.  He says Chelsea could've (should've?) won on Sunday, calls the team strong and quick, and builds up Conte as the "Pep Guardiola of Juventus" (i.e. the person who created a distinctive and very successful style of play).  Certainly strong praise and plenty of respect that he's sure will be reciprocated by someone who watches the opposition as carefully as Conte does.

"I know about our respect for Chelsea and I am pretty sure from the other side there is exactly the same. They've seen us playing and they know we are not easy to play and that is what I thought most about in the last two days and what I will think about because there is always a way to create moments which you are not expecting."

-Jurgen Klopp; source: Sky via Evening Standard

Klopp also had a few wonderful words about Diego Costa, especially the line about the other supporters, that no doubt left the muckrakers disappointed.

"He's world class. If other supporters love you that's not a good sign. He's a warrior on the pitch and uses his body [well]. He was nearly unstoppable against Swansea."

-Jurgen Klopp; source: Sky

Chelsea and Liverpool met in preseason at the famous Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, a match mostly remembered for Cesc Fabregas's challenge on Ragnar Klavan in what was an otherwise low-key affair.  Given the two managers involved and the recent history, including Eden Hazard's exclamation point last season, there's little chance of a repeat of those 90 mellow minutes.

"Hazard was in outstanding shape on that night at Anfield, although we did not defend him too well. We left the specific player in the challenge with him alone. That was not too nice or smart."

"We have to do better as he is back to 100%. They have a lot of key players. Oscar, plays his new role really well, Willian, what a plater, Kante brought in to play with Matic - lively, physically strong and experience."

"We need to improve because they are so experienced. They can play a game where nothing works but always stay cool. No-one cares. We are much younger and we need good moments in a game to take the next good moment. That's how it is in life. Experience, when you use it right, makes you stronger and I'd say that's Chelsea's only real advantage is they are more experienced."

"It's a challenge but I feel good when I think about it. Stamford Bridge is a good place and Friday night is a good time to play football."

-Jurgen Klopp; source: Liverpool Echo

Chelsea will be handing out free drinks before the game for supporters arriving early -- beer, water, or BRAND NEW SUGAR FREE Carabao (ZOMG!) -- so while the Friday night kick-off might provide a bit of extra hassle for the match-going fan, hopefully it'll all be worth it.  And not just because of the free samples of terrible, teeth-rotting, tepid Thai energy drink.

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