Klopp wrestles with emotions over Dortmund and Sturridge
Liverpool boss returns to former club in blaze of publicity, but insists focus is on victory for the Reds
Jurgen Klopp faces an emotional return to his former club Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League tonight and is struggling to reconcile "romanticism and professionalism" as the game approaches.
There were around 200 people in attendance for the Liverpool manager's pre-match press conference, including 20 TV crews, but he is anxious not to be "cast as ringmaster in a football circus", says Chris Bascombe, of the Daily Telegraph. Instead, Klopp "wants to navigate a route to the Europa League semi-final, not marvel at whatever applause is coming his way down memory lane".
The game has been dubbed "El Kloppico" in Germany and interest in the clash, which comes a year after the club's manager of seven years announced he was leaving, is intense.
Emotions are bound to run high. Klopp "had a love affair with the Dortmund fans almost as intense as the one he is currently having with Liverpool supporters", says the Daily Mirror, and the tie "is going to tear him in two".
But so could the result. The German ranks Dortmund as one of the five best teams in the world, while the bookies have them down as favourites for the competition.
Added to that, Klopp is grappling with "one of his biggest decisions since becoming Liverpool manager as he weighs up omitting Daniel Sturridge from his starting line-up", reports The Times.
Sturridge, who was angry at being substituted against Tottenham Hotspur at the weekend, hopes to start a fifth successive match for the first time in two years, "but Klopp is contemplating deploying [Divock] Origi as a lone front man in the hope that the 20-year-old's superior match fitness and physical strength will trouble Dortmund’s defence and make Liverpool more of a threat on the counter-attack", says the paper.
The decision could also have ramifications for Sturridge's long-term future at Liverpool - there were rumours earlier in the year that he could be sold - and England boss Roy Hodgson has said he needs to play regular football if he is to be part of the squad for Euro 2016.