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Everton vs Liverpool: Manager Comparison - Rafael Benítez and Jürgen Klopp

Rafa Benitez

Rafael Benítez signs for Liverpool.

Rafael Benítez sits in the Everton dugout when Liverpool travels to Goodison Park on Wednesday. Even though Benítez has faced Liverpool before, his latest appointment divides opinion among the residents and supporters of the Merseyside clubs.

The Merseyside derby usually brings a feisty atmosphere and shows on the pitch. Last season’s matches added controversy with Jordan Pickford’s challenge on Virgil van Dijk. And the reverse fixture resulted in Everton’s first win against Liverpool in over a decade.

Klopp’s Liverpool head to Goodison with their tails up, but Benítez and Everton make for tricky opponents even when in a bad run of form.

Head to Head

Klopp and Benítez have faced each other five times in the Premier League while the Spaniard managed Newcastle.

Liverpool and Newcastle drew their first match of Benítez’s reign on Tyneside 2-2 before Newcastle got relegated. After they gained promotion for the 17/18 season, Rafa managed one more draw, 1-1, before losing his next three games against the Reds (2-0, 4-0, and 3-2).

While Benítez hasn’t beaten Liverpool since his days at Valencia, the Everton side poses many problems for the Reds. Klopp and Liverpool will have to be at their best to get maximum points on Wednesday.


Benítez started his career successfully coaching Real Madrid’s youth sides before having mixed tenures at La Liga and Segunda División levels. The job that got him on the map was Valencia, where he won La Liga twice as well as the 2003-04 UEFA Cup. He then moved to Liverpool.

Benítez’s achievements with the Reds won’t be alien to Liverpool supporters. The 2005 Champions League final goes down as one of the best in the history of the competition. The Spaniard followed that up with the UEFA Super Cup and the FA Cup in the following season.

There were no more trophies under Rafa’s reign at Liverpool, but he went on to win silverware at his next three clubs Inter Milan, Chelsea, and Napoli.

Benítez wasn’t loved when he took over at Real Madrid, but he found support when returning to England on Tyneside. Rafa hasn’t had any more trophies in top division football, but his EFL Championship winning season got Newcastle promoted to the Premier League, where they haven’t been relegated since.

Rafa Benitez

Rafael Benítez lifts Champions League trophy.

After a brief sting in China with Dalian Professional, Rafa finds himself back in England and Liverpool but on the Blue side.

While Benítez’s legacy is in question with some Liverpool supporters, Klopp continues to build his own. The German managed the Reds to their first League title in over thirty years. He did this on the back of the Champions League-winning season in 2019. The Club World Cup and Super Cup also followed.

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Klopp started his career at Mainz and brought the German 2. Bundesliga side up to the top flight in 2004. At Borussia Dortmund, he toppled juggernauts Bayern Munich and won the Bundesliga twice and two domestic trophies in his seven-year stay.

The match on Wednesday won’t be for any silverware, but the Merseyside derby is its own special trophy for the winner.

Style and Tactics

Benítez’s teams tend to be tactically sound in whatever formation he decides to go with. Back in his Liverpool days, he favored a 4-2-3-1, but with Everton, 4-4-1-1 has been Rafa’s formation.

The Spaniard is also known for squad rotation and zonal marking. Everton is missing several key players, though, and Rafa has had to work through the injury crisis with the remaining members of the squad.

High pressing and “heavy metal” football are synonymous with Liverpool. Klopp’s 4-3-3 setup with these tactics has dismantled teams in the Premier League and Europe.

Liverpool can have their off days, but entertaining football is the usual showing for supporters of the Reds.

With the likes of Mohamed Salah and the rest of the brilliant Reds in form, Everton will do well to keep Liverpool from scoring.


Klopp and Benítez both have great careers in football and with Liverpool, but Rafa’s history is now colored Blue.

Benítez’s appointment adds an extra spice to the mix, but both teams want to win regardless of who stands in the dugout. Last season’s aggressive matches will only add to the traditionally feisty Merseyside derby.

The match kicks off at 20:15 on Wednesday, and Goodison Park will be an intense battleground. 

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