Jürgen Klopp was effusive in his praise for Markus Weinzierl’s FC Augsburg on his return to German soil in the UEFA Europa League.
Die Függerstädter held their own in Thursday’s goalless draw against English giants Liverpool FC, and travel to Anfield next week daring to dream of a place in the last 16.
'Give the Bundesliga more respect'
"It’s not possible to beat Augsburg 5-0," former Borussia Dortmund head coach Klopp explained, whilst tucking into a pretzel at his post-match press conference. "I like the way [Markus Weinzierl] goes about his work and the way he doesn’t let the excitement run away with him. You should give the Bundesliga more respect."
For Klopp’s esteemed counterpart, meanwhile, the performance ticked all the boxes. "We fought hard and made life difficult for them," Weinzierl said, ears still burning. "The aim was to keep a clean sheet, and we did that. It would have been the icing on the cake if we’d have won. We’re in a very good position to progress and maybe spring a real surprise in Liverpool, but we also know it’s a massive ask."
There is hope, however. Weinzierl outfoxed Klopp when Augsburg took on BVB in Dortmund last season, while copious encouragement can be drawn from fearless away wins against the likes of AZ Alkmaar and FK Partizan Belgrade in the previous round. "We’ve got something to build on, but we’ll have to see if it’s enough to progress," summarised FCA captain Paul Verhaegh.
Until then, Augsburg’s focus shifts closer to home. They have not had the best of seasons domestically, and travel to rock-bottom Hannover 96 on Sunday sitting just a point above the , still searching for their first competitive win of 2016. "Everyone knows what Sunday’s about," Weinzierl affirmed. "The performance against Liverpool gives us momentum. If we play like that, we’ll pick up points in the Bundesliga."
The travelling Augsburg masses should certainly help in that respect after putting on a spectacular show of support at the WWK Arena on Thursday. The stadium was transformed into a sea of red and green prior to kick-off, reaffirming exactly why Bundesliga supporters are the very best in the land.