Liverpool head into the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against Hoffenheim knowing that anything other than defeat will see them through to the group stages of Europe’s elite competition. First, they must overcome their German opposition after a 2-1 win in the first leg of the qualifier.
Liverpool have had a mixed start to the season but finally seem to be finding some rhythm with two wins on the bounce since an opening day draw with Watford. The weekend’s win over Crystal Palace was key in nature due to a rare clean sheet which will provide a major confidence boost at Anfield.
Hoffenheim also recorded a 1-0 win at the weekend as they saw off Werder Bremen in the first game of their domestic campaign. They will be out for revenge having lost their first home game in over 15 months to Jurgen Klopp’s side in the first leg last Tuesday night.
Liverpool are unlikely to make many changes from the side which won the first leg, with many key players having been rested at the weekend. Andrew Robertson’s very impressive debut could have earned him the chance to replace Alberto Moreno at left back, and James Milner could come into contention in place of Jordan Henderson in midfield.
Hoffenheim look set to field a very similar line-up to the first leg too, particularly after resting several key players for their win at the weekend. Haavard Nordtveit might hope to start despite scoring an own goal as a substitute in the first leg.
Philippe Coutinho is unavailable for Liverpool as he is yet to re-join first team training due to a back injury which has kept him out for the start of the season. Nathaniel Clyne has also been ruled out with ongoing fitness issues whilst Adam Lallana will do well to make it back to regular football before Christmas.
Florian Grillitsch’s foot injury is the only real doubt for the Germans, with Serge Gnabry likely to play despite illness which saw him rested for their opening game of the Bundesliga season at the weekend.
Match prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Hoffenheim (4-2 on aggregate)
Liverpool may struggle to keep clean sheets, and with the Germans going all out in attack they will be under intense pressure. However, the first leg showed that their attacking power was far superior and they should have enough to get through to the group stages.