Saturday, November 18, 2017

Prediction: Liverpool vs Hoffenheim

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 8/15

Bookmaker: bet365

Liverpool made a giant step towards the Champions League group phase with a 2-1 triumph in Germany, but they cannot afford to relax just yet. Hoffenheim have the quality to upset their more illustrious opponents at Anfield and that is precisely what they will be looking to do on Wednesday evening.

Liverpool

These past few weeks were quite difficult for Liverpool, who had to focus all their efforts on keeping hold of star player Philippe Coutinho, while seeing some mega money offers for their top targets swiftly rejected. It is perfectly clear that this is not the team manager Jurgen Klopp hoped to have before the summer transfer window started, but he has no choice but to work with what he’s got. The latest reports suggest that Barcelona have ended their pursuit of Coutinho after having a £118m bid rejected for the Brazilian, but the club now need to persuade the attacking midfielder to come to terms with the situation and continue to give his best at Anfield. They will have time to do that during the upcoming international break, but the most important thing now is to secure passage into the Champions League group phase. The Reds were somewhat fortunate to take a two-goal lead in the first leg as Hoffenheim missed an early penalty and scored an early goal, but the hosts scored late in the game to keep the tie alive. Liverpool again failed to impress on domestic stage as they recorded a hard-fought win over out-of-sorts Crystal Palace, with Sadio Mane once again proving the saviour.

Team News

Philippe Coutinho and Adam Lallana are definitely out injured, whereas Nathaniel Clyne faces a fitness test.

Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim produced quite a coup by finishing in Bundesliga top 4 last season, albeit narrowly missing out on automatic Champions League berth. Operating on a tight budget, the club failed to properly reinforce the squad over the summer, and they instead saw key men Niklas Sule and Sebastian Rudy join Bayern Munich. Even though they looked pretty good in pre-season, Hoffenheim failed to impress in competitive fixtures, first narrowly defeating Rot-Weiss Erfurt before losing to Hoffenheim in the all-important Champions League play-off. The late goal scored by substitute Mark Uth, however, kept the German side in the tie, although things could have been different had Andrej Kramaric converted the early penalty. Julian Nagelsmann’s side managed to return to winning ways at the weekend, as they defeated Werder Bremen at home, but they will have bigger fish to fry in midweek at Anfield.

Team News

The head coach managed to rest several first team regulars in the weekend’s game, meaning that Andrej Kramaric, Lukas Rupp, Ermin Bicakcic and Serge Gnabry will all be recalled.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Liverpool won six of last nine competitive fixtures at Anfield (D2 L1)
  • The Reds, however, lost four of last eight home games in UCL
  • Hoffenheim scored in last 11 away matches
  • Liverpool without Coutinho and Lallana
  • Sadio Mane scored in both Premier League matches this season

Conclusion

Liverpool continue to struggle for form in the opening exchanges, facing serious problems at the back, so we are not prepared to bet on them winning the return leg. With Hoffenheim bagging goals regularly on the road, our advice is to back both teams to score.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 8/15

Bookmaker: bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nemanja Lazarevic


Working as editor-in-chief at Soccernews.com, Nemanja Lazarevic is responsible for organising and managing the team of writers to ensure the content produced on the site meets high industry standards and remains interesting to our readers. As our go-to guy for the football transfer news, he uses an extensive experience in the industry to dig up latest transfer stories from local sources.

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