Liverpool travel to the Rhein-Neckar Arena to face Hoffenheim this Tuesday night - with both teams gunning for a place in the Champions League.

By 90Min
August 14, 2017

Liverpool travel to the Rhein-Neckar Arena to face Hoffenheim this Tuesday night - with both teams gunning for a place in the Champions League.

The Reds find themselves with a crucial away tie ahead of them, where any positive result would give them leverage going into the second leg at Anfield. But Hoffenheim are no easy team to turn over - so Jurgen Klopp's Reds will have their work cut out. 

Liverpool, who missed out on Champions League qualification two seasons ago - losing the Europa League final 3-1 to Sevilla - will have to bring more composure to this match. Every goal is crucial in the Champions League knock out rounds, and here's a look ahead to the game.


TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

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Led by one of the most exciting coaches in young football, Hoffenheim pose a real challenge to Liverpool. At just 28 years of age at the time of his appointment (Feburary 2016), Julian Nagelsmann became the youngest manager in the Bundesliga. Leading Hoffenheim to safety with 14 games to go, Nagelsmann almost went full Leicester by guiding the club to their highest ever top flight finish in his second season. 

This miraculous turn around has to be credited to the German mastermind, who is truly crafting a fairytale with the underdog club. Hoffenheim's general manager Peter Görlich praised Nagelsmann for bringing a “refreshing brand of courageous, attacking football” to the Rhein-Neckar Arena. Furthermore, Hoffenheim did not lose a single game at home during the 2016/17 season. 

Another comparison that can be made with the Foxes is the signing of former Leicester City striker Andrej Kramaric, which proved to be an inspired acquisition by Nagelsmann. Initially taking the Croatian on a loan deal, they made the deal permanent last summer, paying a club record fee of £9m. 

He's proven a wise investment, scoring 15 league goals as he fired Hoffenheim to a fourth placed finish. 


Recent Form

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Liverpool could only manage a disappointing draw against Watford, having fought their way back into the game and into a 3-2 lead - until added time. Conceding a late equaliser to Miguel Britos from another set piece, Liverpool fell foul to their Achilles heel once again, and it was certainly two points lost given the grasp they had on the game. 

Liverpool's front three were electric, all getting on the scoresheet and showing the promise of being one of the best attacks in the Premier League. Mohammed Salah was particularly impressive, showing that Liverpool made the right call breaking the club record fee to sign the Egyptian. Displaying incisive running and blistering pace, he could tear Hoffenheim apart on Tuesday. 

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Speaking of Hoffenheim, they dispatched of FC Rot-Weiß Erfurt, a third division German side in the DFB Pokal, the equivalent of the League Cup in England. Sending out a full strength side, Nadiem Amiri of Hoffenheim scored the decisive goal that helped them progress to the second round. 

In pre-season, Hoffenheim have won two of their three fixtures, beating Derby County and Bologna, but failing to beat Italian side Genoa. While their recent form remains suspect, their league position last season shows that Liverpool should not underestimate their opponents. 


Team News

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Having got past Watford unscathed injury wise, an unchanged lineup is very likely heading into this fixture. Philippe Coutinho has been left out of the squad with injury and following his recent transfer request, and it remains to be seen whether he'll play for the club again.

As for Hoffenheim, they will be armed with a fully fit squad ahead of this encounter, a blessing for Nagelsmann. With key man Kramaric now fully recovered from a foot injury sustained earlier on in pre-season, the squad will be ready for what will be a historic match.


Prediction

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It's hard to look past Liverpool on European nights, but with the club plunged into controversy with Coutinho and the doubt over their defending credentials, Hoffenheim will know they are there for the taking. Added with Hoffenheim's home record last season, this could prove to be a much tougher test than Jurgen Klopp anticipates. The Liverpool boss has always sustained a slight arrogance, which could prove to be Liverpool's downfall, as the defence will see them fall short once more. 

Prediction: Hoffenheim 2-0 Liverpool 

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