Champions League: Liverpool v Hoffenheim Preview

Liverpool will look to qualify for the Champions League group stage after winning the first leg 2-1 at Hoffenheim. The Reds will hold a one goal advantage as well as two away goals going into the return leg at Anfield.

However, Hoffenheim are a dangerous side and Liverpool’s defence is hardly the most reliable even though they kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 defeat against Crystal Palace on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp rotated his squad for Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the Premier League, making five changes to the team with the second leg in mind.

Hoffenheim also had a 1-0 victory over Werder Bremen at home in the opening game of the Bundesliga campaign. Germany midfielder Kerem Demirbay remain hopeful that Hoffenheim will be able to stun Liverpool in their own backyard.

Injuries

Liverpool will once again be without playmaker Philippe Coutinho who remains sidelined with a back injury. First choice right-back Nathaniel Clyne, who has yet to play a game this season remains doubtful with a hamstring injury. Midfielder Adam Lallana is still out with a thigh injury.

As for Hoffenheim, Kevin Akpoguma remains doubtful after missing Hoffenheim’s first three games this season.

Match stats

Liverpool looks to have the upper hand in this fixture and Jurgen Klopp men will look to continue the club’s fine home form in Europe. Last five European games at Anfield have produced a home victory and in fact, Liverpool are unbeaten in nine home matches in Europe, since a 3-0 reverse to Real Madrid CF on 22 October 2014.

Liverpool are also unbeaten against German sides at home with a record of 11 wins and 3 draws from 14 matches. Augsburg and Dortmund are the last two German teams to play competitive games at Anfield and both lost on one goal.

Predicted Starting Line-Up

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

Prediction

Liverpool attack will definitely be the turning point of this fixture. The teams that come to attack often plays right into Jurgen Klopp’s hands as the frightening pace of Liverpool counter attacks by both Mane and Salah means they are more than capable of adding to their tally at Anfield.

Despite a clean sheet against Crystal Palace on Saturday, the Reds’ shaky defence and inability to defend set pieces will make any result far from guaranteed. If the Reds can sort out these problems at the back, they should be able to progress to the group stage with a comfortable win.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Hoffenheim

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