Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is relishing the chance to challenge himself against Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp once more.
Klopp takes his Liverpool side back to the place where he made his name as a coach for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday.
The German won two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal and reached the Champions League final during a seven-year spell in charge of Dortmund and his successor Tuchel said he was guaranteed a warm welcome on his return.
“Anything else but a warm welcome for Jurgen Klopp will be a surprise,” Tuchel said at a press conference on Wednesday.
But he added: “From the moment the whistle goes Jurgen Klopp will want nothing else than to win. And we too.”
For Tuchel, though, facing Klopp at one of the latter’s former sides is a far from unusual experience, having spent five years in charge of Mainz, the club where the Liverpool boss started his managerial career.
“It’s not the first time I’ve welcomed Klopp back to an ex-club,” he said. “This is the sixth time for me. It’s a routine.”
Tuchel has enjoyed an impressive first season at Dortmund, leading a side which finished seventh under Klopp last term to second in the table, just points behind Bayern Munich, and to the last eight in Europe, including a thumping 5-1 aggregate win over title-chasing Tottenham in the last round.
The 42-year-old is aware, though, that he is building on foundations laid by his predecessor.
“No-one has forgotten when he achieved here,” Tuchel said.
“We are now where we are, because of our history with Jurgen.”
Liverpool go into the match in ninth place in the Premier League and without a win since their 2-0 home success over Manchester United in the first leg of their last-16 tie four matches ago.
However, Tuchel believes their form is improving.
“Liverpool have continued to improve in the past weeks,” he said. “They have outstanding individual quality in their squad and are extremely difficult to play against. We have to be ready for an absolutely top performance.”
Gonzalo Castro, though, a summer signing from Bayer Leverkusen, believes Dortmund have more than enough to match their opponents.
“If we perform, it will be tough for Liverpool,” he said.
His fellow midfielder, Germany international Ilkay Gundogan, could yet be fit for the match, having looked set to miss out with a foot injury.
Tuchel said: “Ilkay trained with more intensity today. It’s touch-and-go, but it looks better than it did on Saturday.”