The final round of matches for qualification into the group stage of the UEFA Champions League will see ten teams battle for the remaining five slots, with the match between Liverpool and Hoffenhiem top of the pack.
Five-time champions, Liverpool go into tonight’s second-leg tie against the Germans in a commanding position, after the 2-1 win at the Rhein-Neckar Arena in Germany last week.
Hoffenhiem will have their work cut out at Anfield tonight, as they will be up against the Reds, who are unbeaten at home against German oppositions under manager, Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool will be without long-term absentees, Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana, while Barcelona target, Phillipe Coutinho, who missed the first leg, is still out with a back problem.
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For Julian Nagelsmann and his team, they are sweating over the fitness of forward, Sandro Wagner, who missed the club’s opening match of the 2017/2018 Bundesliga season with an injury.
Kevin Akpoguma is the only other injury concern for the German side.
The Reds are in firm control of this tie having snatched a win in the first leg away from home. They will be confident of getting the job done in front of their home fans, buoyed by their unbeaten home run against German opposition in 14 matches.
Hoffenhiem, who are bidding for their first appearance at the group stage of the CL, and will require something special to pick the result they need tonight.
While they aren’t out of it just yet, becoming the first German side to pick a win at Anfield is a very difficult task that will require more than their confidence on the ball to achieve.
Liverpool XI [4-3-3]: Mignolet; Alexdander-Arnold; Lovren; Matip; Milner; Wijnaldum; Henderson; Can; Mane; Firmino; Salah.
Hoffenhiem XI [ 3-4-3]: Baumann; Bicakic; Vogt; Hubner; Kaderabek; Demirbay; Rupp; Zuber; Kramaric; Wagner; Gnabry
Liverpool’s commanding position on this tie following the win in Germany and playing at Anfiels mean that they will be favourites for to go through, but can Hoffenhiem defy the odds? The Germans will have to find the cutting edge that was lacking in the first leg if they hope to leave England with a place in the CL group stage.
However, I’d go with Liverpool going through here.
Liverpool are unbeaten at home against German teams in 14 matches.
Hoffenhiem will reach the group stage for the first time in their history if they go through.
The Reds are bidding for their second appearance at the group stage in eight years.
Also happening tonight in the champions League playoffs second-leg matches, Danish side Copahagen hosts Qarabag, who are ahead on aggregate, after their 1-0 win in the first leg.
Steaua Bucuresti are at home to Sporting CP, with the tie still level at 0-0 after the first leg.
Slavia Praha have it all to do against Apoel, with the visitors ahead 2-0 on aggregate, while Russian outfit, CSKA Moskva will be looking to book a place in the group stage for the fifth successive time when they lock horns with Young Boys, who lost at this stage in the 2010 and 2016 seasons.
- CSKVA currently are 1-0 ahead on aggregate, following their first leg win in Switzerland.