Match Preview : UCL Playoffs : Liverpool FC V Hoffenheim
Liverpool FC are all set to take-on Hoffenheim in the 2nd leg of the UEFA Champions League Play-Off at Anfield tonight which might as well turn out to be the season defining for both the clubs. Liverpool are favourites to go through after winning 2-1 away at the Rhein-Neckar Arena. They are unbeaten against German Clubs at Anfield for the last 11 matches. Klopp made some changes to started XI in a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League in the weekend to ensure freshness in the squad.
Here’s what Klopp had to say in the pre-match conference:
“I’m expecting a football game. The main difference from the first game is now everybody knows about the quality of Hoffenheim. I already knew it. But I’m sure a lot of people in England didn’t expect the quality they saw.
“For me it’s half-time. At half-time you have to adjust things in the right direction. The first game was good enough to get a result but the second game has to be better.”
Mark Uth pulled a late goal back for Hoffenheim during the match at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena last week, and manager Julian Nagelsmann says his side are still confident of making the group stages.
The young German manager said at the press conference:
“People in Germany will be pleased if we make it. There will be surprise because people aren’t betting on us. We’re full of confidence. If we win people might be a bit shocked when we return home on Thursday.”
UEFA Champions League 2017/18 Group Stage Play-off 2nd leg
Date: Wednesday, 23rd August 2017
Kick-off at 19:45 UK/ 20:45 CET/ 00:15 IST (Thursday, 24th August 2017)
Venue: Anfield (Liverpool).
TV Broadcast : Sony LIV, Sony Ten2, BT Sport Live, BT Sport 4K UHD, BT Sport 2
Philippe Coutinho is still unavailable, although Barcelona dropping their interest in the Brazilian bodes well for Liverpool moving forward.
Klopp said in his pre-match press conference that Coutinho was now “ill” – whether that is believable is certainly up for debate.
Adam Lallana is still out, and will be until close to Christmas, while Nathaniel Clyne is also still absent with a back problem.
There are no other injury worries for Klopp, and his biggest task will be selecting his personnel for the game.
It is a toss-up as to who starts at right-back out of Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, while Ragnar Klavan‘s steady performance against Palace could tempt the manager to start him ahead of Dejan Lovren.
Andrew Robertson enjoyed a superb debut, and could well keep his place at left-back, with Alberto Moreno waiting in the wings.
The midfield and attack is likely to pick itself, although Gini Wijnaldum’s iffy form and heavy workload of late could see him miss out. Emre Can will likely return.
Nagelsmann has no injuries whatsoever, so he will be able to call upon his strongest possible starting lineup.
Liverpool likely XI: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Matip, Moreno, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can, Mane, Firmino, Salah
Hoffenheim likely XI: Baumann, Bicakic, Vogt, Hubner, Kaderabek, Demirbay, Rupp, Zuber, Kramaric, Wagner, Gnabry.