Those precious and invigorating European nights at Anfield have been part of the fabric of this great club. Make no mistake, many fans in England proudly claim that their beloved club is grand and storied, yet only Manchester United can sit at the same table as Liverpool Football Club. When it comes to Europe, however, Liverpool stand alone. Four of the top six have already secured a berth in the Champions League group stages, and tomorrow’s home game against Hoffenheim offers the club of Shankly, Paisely, Fagan, and Dalglish the chance to do so.
Liverpool have a precious first leg advantage and two away goals from the trip to the Rhein-Neckar-Arena as Julian Nagelsmann’s team proved to be dangerous and troublesome opponents. Liverpool found a way to win despite an early penalty conceded by Dejan Lovren that was saved by Simon Mignolet as Liverpool prevented the hosts from scoring first—crucial when playing away from home in the first leg. A 2-1 away win puts Liverpool in a position where an opening goal by Jürgen Klopp’s team at Anfield would leave Hoffenheim needing to score three goals to qualify; it’s the sort of position that a fan prays for.
For Liverpool (4-3-3):
Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Moreno; Can, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané
Jürgen Klopp will have been pleased by his players’ exertions over the weekend that produced a home victory against Crystal Palace with a clean sheet in tow. A rotated team that included Andrew Robertson, Ragnar Klavan, Joe Gomez, James Milner, and Daniel Sturridge helped the Reds to a 1-0 win. The lessons of previous seasons and the importance of rotation seem to have not been lost on the charismatic 50-year-old. Trent Alexander-Arnold (a future set-piece king) and Alberto Moreno will be rested to make raids on opposition flanks.
Klopp will most likely restore the players that have been rested over the weekend, but Adam Lallana (thigh) and Nathaniel Clyne (hamstring) remain out of contention. Lallana is due to return towards the end of the year, while Clyne is set to miss the remainder of the month at least. Philippe Coutinho will stay at Liverpool despite interest from a fading European power, but as the Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe put it on Twitter: “As soon as Coutinho fancies playing for LFC again he just needs to say his back feels ok, put on his boots, and walk onto [the] training pitch. Really don’t see any process of ‘re-integration’ being any more complicated than that.”
Hoffenheim have no real doubts with a first leg deficit to overcome, but Nagelsmann will be concocting a plan to become the first German side to win at Anfield. The 30-year-old trainer will have been pleased by his team’s response to the reversal in midweek. A 1-0 win over Werder Bremen indicates that Liverpool’s opponents aren’t brittle and cannot be underestimated despite being at a disadvantage.
To the winner, the spoils.
Kickoff is set for 7.45PM BST/2.45PM EST tomorrow on BT Sport 2 in the UK and ESPN3 USA & Fox Sports 1 USA in the US. Elsewhere, beIN Sports 1 Australia in Australia, TSN4 in Canada, Sky Sport 1 & 3 in Germany, Sony LIV & TEN 2 in India, SuperSport 6 Africa in Kenya, Eurosport Asia in Malaysia, SuperSport 6 Africa and Canal+ Sport 2 Afrique in Nigeria, Eurosport Asia in Singapore, and SuperSport 3 and SuperSport 6 Africa are carrying the match. BT Sport Live Streaming and LFCTV Go provide online options to follow the game. You can find full listings at LivesoccerTV.
We'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on all the action as it happens