Julian Nagelsmann does his reputation no harm in battle with Jürgen Klopp | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 16.08.2017
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Julian Nagelsmann does his reputation no harm in battle with Jürgen Klopp

TSG 1899 Hoffenheim's Champions League hopes were dealt a severe blow by Liverpool on Tuesday night, but Julian Nagelsmann's reputation emerged unscathed after his first big test on the international stage.

"It wasn't the worst team which lost tonight," Julian Nagelsmann told reporters after Hoffenheim's Champions League play-off first leg defeat to Liverpool, "it was the more unlucky one."

Not that the 30-year-old deals in luck. He will be well aware that this team did not miss a series of golden chances due to bad fortune, but rather due to some wayward finishing.

Nagelsmann has built his reputation on an empirical, scientific approach to football management. He is the latest off a long production line of modern German coaches including Thomas Tuchel and his counterpart in the opposing dugout on Tuesday night, Jürgen Klopp.

And whether his team manages to overturn the 2-1 deficit in northwest England next Wednesday or not, Nagelsmann will not have done his glowing reputation any harm.  

Deutschland Bundesliga | Julian Nagelsmann (picture alliance / Hasan Bratic/dpa)

Julian's Nagelsmann's calm and calculated management has proved successful at Hoffenheim

'Only halftime'

No German team has ever won at Anfield, a ground which still retains a mythic status in the minds of many German fans and coaches. "It's only halftime," warned a typically emotional Klopp. "We will need Anfield and we will get Anfield."

Nagelsmann, on the other hand, will not be swayed by such emotion. "I doubt the players will have time to translate the chants," he said, coolly.

It's precisely that attitude which sets the young Bavarian apart and which has earned him plaudits all over Germany and Europe - including in Munich, where Uli Hoeneß has not concealed his admiration for a coach who "would definitely be considered by Bayern at some point."

Despite the first-leg defeat, Nagelsmann's players demonstrated the tactical and strategic acumen needed to end that unhappy German record on Merseyside. Were it not for a missed penalty and some wayward finishing, the tie could have looked very different. But even should they fall short, dropping into the Europa League would hardly be the end of the world for a club and a manager who have never even been in Europe before.

Deutschland TSG 1899 Hoffenheim v Bayern Muenchen | Julian Nagelsmann (Getty Images/Bongarts/M. Hangst)

Julian Nagelsmann has time on his hands

No rush

The village team bankrolled by software entrepreneur Dietmar Hopp's millions has nothing to prove against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus. "European Royalty," as one Liverpool banner in the away end proclaimed, harking back to a history and tradition which Hoffenheim and Nagelsmann neither have nor need - not yet, anyway.

Indeed, with the Champions League increasingly dominated by a cartel of super clubs, Nagelsmann's talents are arguably best put to the test in the Europa League, where a run deep into Europe's secondary competition could act as an ideal stepping stone both for him and his team. Learning how to fight on multiple fronts for the first time, will surely stand them in good stead for a long time.

Next Wednesday in Liverpool, Jürgen Klopp will call upon The Kop to inspire his players over the line and propel them back into the Champions League group stage on a wave of emotion.

Result or not, Julian Nagelsmann will continue to refine his philosophy and mature as a coach. The 30-year-old's reputation will be unblemished and bigger challenges will surely beckon.