Hoffenheim vs. Liverpool – All you need to know ahead of Reds’ vital Champions League playoff

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Liverpool head to Germany to face Hoffenheim on Tuesday at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, in the first-leg of their vital Champions League playoff.

Hoffenheim vs. Liverpool

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 – 7:45pm (BST)
Rhein-Neckar-Arena
Champions League playoff

It was far from an ideal start to the Reds’ Premier League season, with Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Watford leaving a rather bitter taste.

The last-gasp equaliser that robbed Liverpool of two points epitomised the defensive woes that have dogged them in recent years, and supporters vented their fury at the final whistle.

With the Philippe Coutinho saga rumbling on and key transfer targets still not signed, a negative result in Germany on Tuesday does not bear thinking about.

Liverpool have only been in the Champions League group stages once since 2009/10 – the ill-fated 2014/15 campaign under Brendan Rodgers – and they must ensure that they don’t fall at the final hurdle over these next two games.

Hoffenheim are a talented side led by 30-year-old manager Julian Nagelsmann, and if Jurgen Klopp‘s side aren’t at the races, they will punished.

The Bundesliga outfit finished fourth in the league last season, and any Liverpool supporters taking them lightly could be in for a nasty shock.

Still, the Reds are the clear favourites to progress, and if they eradicate their continued issues at the back, the attacking brilliance at their disposal will get them through a tricky test.

Expect a nervy night in Hoffenheim.

 

Team News

SINSHEIM, GERMANY - Monday, August 14, 2017: Liverpool's Marko Grujic, Divock Origi, Dejan Lovren and Sadio Mane during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Play-Off 1st Leg match against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Coutinho is once again unavailable for Liverpool, with his supposed back injury preventing him from featuring against Nagelsmann’s men.

Daniel Sturridge is another who misses out, with the 27-year-old not making the cut despite Klopp speaking positively about his progress last week.

Nathaniel Clyne also remains sidelined, having missed the clash with Watford, allowing the ever-impressive Trent Alexander-Arnold to make his first ever Champions League appearance.

Long-term absentee Adam Lallana will be out until the autumn, with he and Coutinho’s absence felt at Vicarage Road at the weekend.

Elsewhere, the much-praised front-three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino could all start, unless Klopp feels the need to rotate slightly.

 

Form

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 12, 2017: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet look dejected as a score a second goal during the FA Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Hoffenheim – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 1-0 vs. Erfurt
Won 3-0 vs. Bologna
Won 2-1 vs. Derby County
Won 4-2 vs. Standard Liege
Drew 0-0 vs. Augsburg

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 3-3 vs. Watford
Won 3-1 vs. Athletic Bilbao
Drew 1-1 vs. Atletico Madrid (lost 5-4 on penalties)
Won 3-0 vs. Bayern Munich
Won 3-0 vs. Hertha Berlin

 

Klopp’s & Henderson’s view

Both Klopp and captain Jordan Henderson attended Monday’s press conference, with the Liverpool captain saying that, despite his brilliance, Coutinho’s future is far less important than on-pitch matters:

“It’s obviously a difficult situation for Phil. Whatever I say won’t help the situation,” he said.

“As players, we’re fully focused on the job at hand and the game. You expect things like this to happen in transfer windows, players going, players coming in.

“But you’ve got to focus on what’s important and that’s obviously the game tomorrow. It shouldn’t have any effect at all.

“If you ask everyone they want Phil to stay because he’s a world-class player.”

TV & Live Blog Info

SINSHEIM, GERMANY - Monday, August 14, 2017: A general view of the Rhein-Neckar-Arena ahead of the UEFA Champions League Play-Off 1st Leg match between TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and Liverpool at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The match is live on BT Sport 2 from 7pm (BST), with kick-off at 7:45pm.

Our matchday live blog will be in full flow as always, with Ben Twelves in the chair to talk you through all of the action. That also gets underway at 7pm.

To mark the end of the 30-year wait for a league title, the ‘Liverpool Mishmash’ poster is available to order exclusively on This Is Anfield — the history of the Reds in one image!

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