Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone is ready to snub another post-match handshake with rival Jurgen Klopp at Anfield tonight, describing the gesture as “false”.
Recent Champions League meetings between the coaches have proven tempestuous, the emotions spilling over in each of their past three encounters.
Simeone dashed off as Klopp sought to shake hands after Liverpool’s 3-2 victory in Madrid a fortnight ago, prompting the German coach to sarcastically wave him goodbye. The Argentinian reiterated he had no wish to indulge in the tradition on Merseyside.
“I don’t like the greeting after the match because they are the emotions of two sides in different emotional minds,” said Simeone.
“I know in the UK it is a custom, but I don’t share it and I don’t like the falseness it may include. I don’t know Klopp as a person very well but I know he is a great coach who has done great work at every club he has been at. I don’t like to give opinions about other teams and coaches have to respect that.”
Klopp made a point of differentiating his coaching style to that of Simeone prior to their previous couple of encounters, but insists he holds his rival in highest regard.
“If I’d have known [about the unwillingness to shake hands] then I would not have tried it, and the waving and things was unnecessary. Sorry from me,” said Klopp.
“I was really not happy with that, but we are both emotional and that was my emotion then. Now I know he does not want to do it after the game, so no problem. We shook hands before the game and will probably do that again, I assume. But after the game, no problem and we can all go home happily in that department.
“In between the two handshakes is a very important game and that’s much more important to think about. It will be a tough one, we know that, but it’s our home ground and we want other teams to feel that as well.”
Klopp hopes to welcome back Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara following their recent absences. Atletico’s last Anfield visit was shortly before lockdown in 2020, when Klopp admits his mind was not 100 per cent focused on the game given the gravity of the public health situation.
“It has been a strange 18 months since then, really,” said Klopp.
“The world turned upside down in parts. I am not sure we could have imagined it that night, though I think we all had a sense that something could happen to us, to society. I didn’t know to what extent that night. It was the one game, when I thought about it later, which I never thought about like a football game. Just in my mind, it was a really strange moment. Before the game, after the game, everything that happened, the changes in Madrid, then all of a sudden no mascots in the stadium so you realise ‘OK, somebody thinks things could be not good’. It was really a strange situation.”
By Chris Bascombe