Date & Time: August 23rd, 2017 @ 19:45 BST
Hoffenheim got their Bundesliga campaign off to a winning start on Saturday, with a 1-0 home victory against Werder Bremen. Now they will be hoping to recuperate before their visit to Anfield as they aim to prolong their maiden visit to the top table of European football.
Julian Nagelsmann will almost certainly have many, many more years to look forward to in the Champions League but he will certainly not consider this season’s adventure to be over just yet. Wednesday night is just the type of game that such a young and progressive coach will relish.
Liverpool’s season is getting off to a slow but steady start, results-wise. They drew 3-3 at Watford on the opening day of the Premier League, defeated Hoffenheim in Germany last week, and picked up a deserved three points at home to Crystal Palace this past weekend. Mané is proving to be more and more valuable to this Liverpool team with every passing game.
I feel that Liverpool may be gradually clicking into gear and if they can make it past Hoffenheim and into the Champions League group stages then, for the moment at least, it will be some sort of reprieve for Klopp and his Red men. It’s at that stage that we may see a visible weight lift off of their collective shoulders. Many players are playing within themselves so far and must wish they could fast forward into September. How much is this Coutinho saga affecting them? Firmino, in particular, must be feeling very conflicted and I can’t wait until this whole episode is over so he can get back to concentrating on his game.
For now, though, just simply getting the job done and advancing to the promised land of the group stages will make me happy.
Hoffenheim don’t have many injury worries at present. Florian Grillitsch, their young Austrian attacker, is the only concern for Nagelsmann as he has a foot injury. He is not expected to be available for selection at Anfield.
Klopp is set to be without Coutinho as that transfer saga drags on and on. Lallana and Clyne are both injured and unavailable for this match. I’m sure there will be some rotation from Klopp again, with next Sunday’s Arsenal game in mind. Predicting the starting lineup I had to consider the performance of Klavan, who was very solid against Crystal Palace. When you also take into account the nervy, clumsy performance from Lovren against Hoffenheim last week then I think Klavan will get the nod on Wednesday night.
Sadio Mané and Salah may be swapped, with Mané getting some rest on the bench. Then Klopp will still have him available if some extra impetus is needed in the attacking third as the game progresses.
Liverpool XI: Mignolet, Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Klavan, Robertson, Henderson, Milner, Wijnaldum, Salah, Sturridge, Firmino
Hoffenheim XI: Baumann, Bicakcic, Vogt, Hubner, Kaderabek, Demirbay, Rupp, Zuber, Gnabry, Wagner, Kramaric
When they last met
Last week’s 2-1 victory for Liverpool in Germany was the first time these two sides were in competition against each other.
Liverpool 2 – 1 Hoffenheim
The Reds have never lost at Anfield against German opposition and I think they have enough about them to finish off Hoffenheim with another victory on Wednesday. A clean sheet would make it four in a row at Anfield for Klopp’s men but Hoffenheim did look dangerous in attack last week so I think they’ll bag one on Wednesday. Hopefully, it will only be a consolation goal if they do.
Let’s cross each bridge as we come to it. Win or draw on Wednesday night and we are back. Personally, I can’t wait to see the atmosphere as European football returns to Anfield this week. I think Liverpool will close the deal.
Bring. It. On.