A place in the Champions League is the dream for all club teams across the continent, and while Liverpool and Hoffenheim have rather contrasting histories as far as European football is concerned both will be desperate to win this qualifying match and take their place in the competition proper.
1. Teams Preview
Liverpool need no introduction to football fans around the globe, and they will be keen to strut their stuff on the biggest for the forthcoming season. They have a talented manager in Jurgen Klopp, and while there are areas of weakness in their squad – notably in defence – the signing of Mohamed Salah adds to what is already a star-studded cast of attacking talents.
Hoffenheim are rather less well decorated in European football, and as recently as the year 2000 were playing in the fifth tier of German football. But investment and the appointment of Ralf Rangnick as manager ensures a rapid rise, and in 2008 they were elevated to the Bundesliga for the first time.
Today, 30-year-old Julian Nagelsmann is in charge – the youngest coach in any of Europe’s leading divisions, and after guiding Hoffenheim to fourth place last season he and his team have a chance to compete in their first ever Champions League if they can get past Liverpool.
The first leg takes place in Germany on Tuesday August 15, just as the new domestic campaign is getting underway, so who will take an advantage into the second leg a week later?
2. 1X2 Odds
The bookmakers are siding with the European experience of Liverpool over the youthful dynamism of Hoffenheim, and so the Reds are available to be backed at 2.37.
The German side are available at 3.10 on home soil, while the draw can be wagered upon at 3.40.
|Hoffenheim to Win||Bet365: 3.10 Bet with bonus||William Hill: 2.90 Bet with bonus||Ladbrokes: 2.80 Bet with bonus|
|Draw||Bet365: 3.40 Bet with bonus||William Hill: 3.40 Bet with bonus||Ladbrokes: 3.25 Bet with bonus|
|Liverpool to Win||Bet365: 2.25 Bet with bonus||William Hill: 2.37 Bet with bonus||Ladbrokes: 2.37 Bet with bonus|
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3. Draw - The Best Result?
There are so many different ways to look at this fixture. Hoffenheim were unbeaten in 17 Bundesliga matches on home soil last term (W11 D6 L0), and so they will fancy the job when Liverpool come to town.
Another potential advantage or the Germans is that their Bundesliga campaign does not start until August 19, so they can focus all of their preparations on this game. In contrast, Liverpool’s English Premier League campaign kicks off on August 12 against Watford; an unwelcome distraction.
So Hoffenheim have a couple of advantages, but their hopes have been hampered somewhat by the injury suffered by key striker Sandro Wagner, who has a fine eye for goal. The Germans are hopeful he will return in time for the second leg, but he may miss this opening clash. That is a huge blow to their hopes.
Liverpool’s squad isn’t the most in-depth, particularly in midfield where the fitness of captain Jordan Henderson will be crucial to their hopes. If he picks up an injury against Watford then it will hit Klopp’s side hard.
So there are plusses and minuses to both Hoffenheim and Liverpool, and in a sense a draw would be a reasonable result for both. Liverpool would fancy converting at Anfield, while Hoffenheim would remain in the game and hope that Wagner returns from injury in time.
The Champions League gets underway on August 15 – will it be Liverpool or Hoffenheim taking their place in the draw?