Liverpool faced a tough draw when pitted against Bundesliga side Hoffenheim for their Champions League qualifier. A 2-1 victory in the first leg, Hoffenheim’s first home defeat in 15 months, was a good start, but Liverpool assured their place in the group stages with a superb display at Anfield.
Emre Can scored a brace and Mohamed Salah pounced on a shot off the woodwork to see Liverpool race to a 3-0 lead within 21 minutes, and even though the Germans fought back after some poor defending to score two, Roberto Firmino’s fourth goal put the tie to bed.
Here is what The Boot Room learnt from the game…
Liverpool cannot be underestimated
The Reds’ defensive troubles had led some to doubt whether a 2-1 first leg win would be enough to give them a comfortable cushion to progress into the group stages of the Champions League. However, their attacking play in the first 20 minutes was as good as you will find anywhere in Europe’s elite competition this season.
Their pressing, desire and pace in attack was simply too much for the Germans to handle and despite being arguably the toughest draw Liverpool could have faced in their qualifier, they made it look like easy work. There were signs of weaknesses defensively in the second half, but any side should underestimate Liverpool at their own peril.
Sadio Mane is Liverpool’s best player, forget Philippe Coutinho
With Philippe Coutinho now sat out through illness, alongside a back injury, as Barcelona continue to push to sign the Brazilian, Sadio Mane has showed his value to the side. Despite missing the start of pre-season due to a knee injury, the Senegalese star was the star of the show for the Reds.
His pace, direct running and creativity was a real threat and Hoffenheim didn’t quite know how to react. Setting up Emre Can and being involved in Mohamed Salah’s strike, everything came down the left hand side and through Mane.
Dejan Lovren is not the centre back that Liverpool need
The Croatian was woeful in a display where pretty much every other Liverpool player shined. Gifting possession to Hoffenheim in the build up to their first goal, he was then beaten in the air for them to score a second and keep a very faint hope of a comeback alive in the closing moments.
Jurgen Klopp has seemed to hint that he is not on the look out for another defender, but if Lovren struggles this much against Germany’s fourth best team, it’s a terrifying thought to imagine how he would handle the threat of the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.