Liverpool and Hoffenheim battle it out at Anfield on Wednesday, August 23, to determine which club will qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stages. Liverpool has the upper hand heading into the second leg with a 2-1 lead on aggregate. Hoffenheim has to overcome the deficit and the home field disadvantage Anfield has given them.
The first leg of the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff happened last week at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena in Germany. Hoffenheim had the chance to take the lead early in the game when Serge Gnabry went down inside the box after a challenge by Dejan Lovren, per Sky Sports. The referee awarded a penalty but Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet saved the shot of Andrej Kramaric.
The Reds got the 1-0 lead in the 35th minute after a sublime free kick from 18-year-old right back Trent Alexander-Arnold. Liverpool went up 2-0 in the 74th minute with an own goal by Hoffenheim midfielder Havard Nordtveit.
Hoffenheim got back a goal late in the game when substitute striker Mark Uth scored in the 87th minute. Benjamin Hubner almost leveled the score in injury time when he missed an open header from close range. The miss by Hubner could haunt Hoffenheim heading into their second leg showdown against Liverpool at Anfield.
In an interview with reporters (h/t The Guardian), Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp appealed to the fans to make their presence felt at Anfield on Wednesday night against Hoffenheim. Klopp assured the fans that if they give all their support, the players will come out and play their best.
“I know it is a legend of Anfield on European nights, they are really special and we need these special nights. Everyone who wants this needs to do their job tomorrow. I can guarantee the boys will fight for everything. It does not mean we will do it, but it means we will fight for it. I hope we will show the world what we were are able to do.”
On the other hand, Hoffenheim captain Kevin Vogt is confident that they can win against Liverpool at Anfield and move on to the UEFA Champions League group stages for the first time in the club’s history. Vogt told Stephen Uersfeld of ESPN in an interview that they go into the game confident and they can score two goals or more.
“It’s beyond debate that we’re capable of scoring two or more goals. We’ll take to the pitch with a lot of self-confidence and throw everything in so we can win there.”
Liverpool and Hoffenheim are coming off wins this weekend in their respective leagues. Liverpool defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 at Anfield last Saturday while Hoffenheim did the same at home with the same scoreline against Werder Bremen. However, Liverpool is going to be without superstar forward Philippe Coutinho as well as Adam Lallana and Nathaniel Clyne.
The second leg of Liverpool vs. Hoffenheim is scheduled on Wednesday, August 23, at Anfield. Kickoff time is 11:45 a.m. PT, 2:45 p.m. ET, and 7:45 p.m. BST. Fans in the United States can watch the game on ESPN3 and FOX Sports 1 while fans in the United Kingdom need to tune in on BT Sport 2.
Liverpool vs. Hoffenheim is also available via live stream on WatchESPN, FOX Sports GO, fuboTV, and BT Sport Live. For the complete list of channels to watch the game around the world, visit Live Soccer TV.
[Featured Image by Alex Grimm/Getty Images]