UEFA Champions League playoffs: Liverpool 2 v 1 Hoffenheim

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UEFA Champions League playoffs: Liverpool 2 v 1 Hoffenheim

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Note: Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side will find out their three Group Stages Champions League opponents on Thursday after defeating Hoffenheim 6-3 on aggregate in their Champions League two legged tie play off. 

Liverpool who are in striking distance of Champions League group stages will host Hoffenheim as the Reds take a 2-1 lead from the first leg into the second leg of their playoff at Anfield. In terms of the Reds’ season, and possibly even their long-term future, the importance of tomorow’s clash is massive. Even after last week’s 2-1 win in Germany, Julian Nagelsmann’s offenheim si side will be no pushover in the return fixture at Merseyside, with Mark Uth’s late goal in the first-leg keeping the tie very much alive.

Liverpool are strong favorites to progress through to the Champions League Group Stages, with Liverpool’s 1-0 win against Crystal Palace a confidence building crucial first Premier League win of the 2017-18 campaign.

Squad changes were made by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, bringing a newness to the squad. Liverpool has the potential to thrive in Europe’s greatest club competition, the Champions League, rather than competitng in the Europa League again in 2017-18.

Tremendous fan support at Anfield is needed on what will be a special night to remember.

Match Report

First Leg: Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool

Liverpool striker Philippe Coutinho is still unavailable to play for the Reds, and Barcelona seems to have dropped their interest in the Brazilian bodes.

Klopp said in his pre-match press conference that Coutinho was now “ill”. Adam Lallana is still out until close to Christmas, while Nathaniel Clyneis is out with a back problem. There are no other injury worries for Klopp, and his biggest task will be choosing his starting line-up. It is a toss-up as to who starts at right-back betweem Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, while Ragnar Klavan‘s steady performance against Palace could persuade Klopp to start him ahead of Dejan Lovren. Andrew Robertson enjoyed a stunning debut, and may keep his place at left-back, with Alberto Moreno waiting in the wings. The midfield and attack may stay the same, although Gini Wijnaldum’s unsteady form could see him miss out. Emre Can will probably start.

Nagelsmann on the other hand, has no injuries so he will be able to start his strongest possible starting lineup.

Last Tuesday’s clash at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena was exciting throughout, but Liverpool came through to win the first leg. It was a memorable night for Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose stunning free-kick opened the scoring on his European debut, further highlighting his great talent. Simon Mignolet had saved Andrej Kramaric’s penalty just prior to the free-kick. Havard Nordtveit’s second-half own goal was lucky for the Reds, with James Milner‘s attempted cross taking a nick off the Hoffenheim defender and into the net. Uth pulled a goal back for his side late on.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp stressed the importance of not taking Hoffenheim lightly, and said he left practicing for a potential penalty shootout up to his players:

“In football it’s always important to have respect for the qualities of the opponent. Next you need to deal with them,” Klopp said. “We have a plan. We need to be very calm. They have players who are good enough and offensive and I respect that. I did not make them practice penalties but I allow them to practice penalties after training if they want.”

MUNICH, GERMANY - Tuesday, August 1, 2017: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia during the Audi Cup 2017 match between FC Bayern Munich and Liverpool FC at the Allianz Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool's last five results in all competitions

Won 1-0 vs. Crystal Palace
Won 2-1 vs. Hoffenheim
Drew 3-3 vs. Watford
Won 3-1 vs. Athletic Bilbao
Drew 1-1 vs. Atletico Madrid (lost 5-4 on penalties)

Hoffenheim's last five results in all competitions

Won 1-0 vs. Werder Bremen
Lost 2-1 vs. Liverpool
Won 1-0 vs. Erfurt
Won 3-0 vs. Bologna
Won 2-1 vs. Derby County

AUG 23 2017 Champions League Liverpool v 1899 Hoffenheim Tickets Anfield Road - Liverpool, United Kingdom

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