Champions League: Hoffenheim v Liverpool Preview

Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp will be without striker Daniel Sturridge in his 22-man squad for Tuesday night’s Champions League play-off first-leg tie at Hoffenheim after the England international suffered a thigh injury in pre-season. Playmaker Philippe Coutinho will also be out of the match after failing to recover from a sore back which kept him out of Saturday’s Premier League opener at Watford.

Summer signing Andrew Robertson, who was left out of the squad for Saturday’s draw at Watford, is included in the squad in Germany and could be in line to make his debut at left-back.

Hoffenheim began their season with a 1-0 win at third-tier side Erfurt in the German Cup on Saturday. Liverpool will prove to be a tougher opponent but they remain confident of knocking the Reds out. Liverpool can expect an attacking approach from Hoffenheim, who won’t alter their style of play against bigger teams. Germany internationals like Kerim Demirbay and Sandro Wagner, as well as the on-loan Serge Gnabry, make up a dangerous front capable of scoring at any time for the home side.

Jurgen Klopp will be looking for a more resolute defensive display on Tuesday than the one that looked vulnerable defensively against Watford on Saturday in order to get anything from the game. Klopp will need no warnings about the threat awaiting his side as he will be facing the team that finished fourth behind his former team, Dortmund last season. However, the immediate impact made by new signing Mohamed Salah, who scored on his Premier League debut for the club will definitely give the German boss cause for optimism.

Injuries

Daniel Sturridge (thigh), Philippe Coutinho (back), Adam Lallana (thigh) and Nathaniel Clyne (back) will miss the game. Hoffenheim enter the match with no major injury concerns.

Match stats

Hoffenheim lost only two of their last 14 league games and secured their highest Bundesliga finish of fourth last season, nine years after being promoted to the top flight for the first time

Hoffenheim are unbeaten in 17 home league games, winning 11. They’ve lost only one of the last 22. They also managed to keep a clean sheet in four of their last five home league games.

Liverpool won four of their last five away Premier League games and went three without conceding before Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Watford

Predicted Starting Line-Up

Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane.

Prediction

The home record of Hoffenheim last season could prove to be a much tougher test for Liverpool. The Reds defence will once again be put to test and Jurgen Klopp will be hoping that his team will not repeat the defensive horror show they produced at Watford on Saturday.

With Liverpool front three capable of terrorizing defences, Liverpool should not have any problem scoring away from home. The Reds should be able to take something away from this game and finish the tie off at Anfield in the second leg. A draw seems like a fair result provided Jurgen Klopp’s team doesn’t suffer from defensive lapses.

Prediction: Hoffenheim 1-1 Liverpool