It happened. Liverpool drew the German team in the draw so fourth in the Bundesliga will face off against fourth in the Premier League. Roberto Firmino returns to his former club, Jürgen Klopp plays a German opponent in competitive football for the third time as Liverpool manager, and an undoubtedly fascinating subplot exists on the touchline between a 50-year-old that is one of the most recognised trainers in the game and a precocious coach who only turned 30 last month.
Naturally, Klopp had his say on what should be a difficult but exciting tie for both teams. Klopp went on to praise the region that he descried as “more a village than a city”—one that he grew up not too far from in his developmental years—ahead of a first leg that takes place in Germany before a return leg at Anfield.
“Very interesting,” Klopp told the official site with his customary charm. “Actually, it was exactly what I expected when I had a look – if there’s a choice we always seem to take the German team! Sorry!
“It was clear from the first moment when we knew who we could face that there would be no easy game. It’s Hoffenheim and that’s for sure not an easy game. But we should always not forget what they thought in the moment they saw the draw – it’s not the best thing they could get.
“I’m completely fine with it, happy to know and now we can start preparing. [They are a] strong side, how everybody can imagine. When you are fourth in Germany you are a strong side.
“It’s a very interesting club. They have a lot of really good young players. They lost two of them – [Sebastian] Rudy and [Niklas] Sule to Bayern - and had a little change. [They have] a very young manager, just 30 years old, a very talented man.
“That’s a real challenge but I’m looking forward to it. First we’ll play Watford but at the same time we’ll start preparing for Hoffenheim and it’s really exciting.”
This is the right reaction, and as usual, Klopp leads the way. Liverpool still have time in the transfer window to look for additions, but at this stage, it’s vital to take the fine form shown in pre-season matches so far into the final game against Athletic Bilbao without any further injuries to deplete the first-team squad further. If Merseyside’s finest can start with the requisite effervescence against Watford, Hoffenheim may find Klopp’s counter pressing acolytes as most unaccommodating and unwelcome opponents.