Hoffenheim v Liverpool
Tuesday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport

Home a fortress for Hoffenheim

A quick potted history of Hoffenheim.

They were founded in 1899, did nothing of note for 100 years, were still languishing in the fifth tier in 2000, got a big injection of cash from a billionaire and ascended to the Bundesliga in 2008.

After finishes of 7th, 11th, 11th, 11th, 16th, 9th, 8th and 15th they hit new heights by taking fourth spot in last season's German top-flight.

The chief reason - a bright, young manager called Julian Nagelsmann, who took over in February 2016 when they were languishing in 17th.

When checking last year's league table, the obvious jump-out stat is that they were unbeaten at home.

As you might expect for a club that has risen through the ranks, they still play in a stadium befitting a lower-league side - the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena which holds just 30,150. Hardly Anfield on a European night then but clearly it's become something of a fortress.

Oh, and they didn't just nick fourth place either. Hoffenheim racked up 62 points from 34 games last season. That was 13 more than fifth-placed Cologne.

Klopp has local knowledge

It was probably the hardest team Liverpool could draw but at least Jurgen Klopp will have more knowledge and inside info on his fellow Germans than any other Premier League manager would have.

And Klopp has done well against his countrymen since taking charge at Anfield.

In the Reds' run to the Europa League final two seasons ago, Klopp's Liverpool beat Augsburg (0-0 away, 1-0 at home) and, famously, Borussia Dortmund (1-1 away, 4-3 at Anfield).

Earlier this month, Liverpool headed back to Germany and cruised past Hertha 3-0 in a friendly and then scored an eye-catching 3-0 win over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the Audi Cup.

The concern for Reds fans after those clean sheets is that they appear to have reverted to type.

The attacking prowess was again on show in their Premier League opener at Watford but they had to settle for a 3-3 draw after some more highly unconvincing defending, especiallly at set-pieces.

Hoffenheim's scouts will have taken note.

Scoring three goals again suggests Philippe Coutinho (who misses this game) isn't the disastrous loss some may think. Conceding three also suggests they need to sign Virgil Van Dijk as soon as possible.

Market respects hosts

Hoffenheim are 3.05 to get the win and head to Anfield with an advantage, a price which very much takes into count last year's unbeaten home record.

Liverpool are 2.48 to take a first-leg lead while the draw is 3.60.

How did Hoffenheim do when the big guns visited last year? They beat Bayern Munich 1-0 (just one of two defeats suffered all season by the champions), drew 2-2 with runners-up RB Leipzig in August and also shared a 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund in December.

To add some detail, Leipzig needed a last-minute equaliser while Dortmund played the whole of the second half with 10 men after Marco Reus was sent off with them 2-1 down.

Overall, it's pretty obvious that Hoffenheim can more than hold their own against the bigger teams.

I'm tempted by Liverpool at nearly 6/4 but the hosts' home record and the fact that this is only the first leg definitely brings the draw into play.

Goals expected

Liverpool's ability to plunder goals but leak plenty too dictates the market here and Over 2.5 is trading at just 1.66. That's fair enough although some first-leg caution could just kick in on either side. Unders is 2.20.

Hoffenheim had the third-best home defensive record in the Bundesliga last season, conceding 14 goals in 17 matches, while they banked 35 at the other end.

Salah and Firmino worth chancing to score

After the Watford game, it's very easy to put more trust in Liverpool's ability to score goals than see out victories when taking a lead.

Roberto Firmino is one of Hoffenheim's best-known former players and should get an excellent reception. He'll be on penalty duties again if James Milner isn't on the pitch and put his spot-kick away impressively at Watford.

As an all-out attacking team, Liverpool win lots of penalties so there's a genuine chance Firmino will have another free pop at goal from 12 yards.

Obviously, he'll be more in his comfort zone than any other Reds player on Tuesday night and he's scored in three of his last four away games for the Merseysiders this season and last.

Mo Salah was Liverpool's top scorer in pre-season, finding the net four times and averaging a goal every 79.3 minutes.

He took that flying start into their opener against Watford and bagged a debut Premier League goal in Reds colours.

The Egyptian star scored home and away for Basel in the Champions League against Chelsea (an obvious reason why they signed him) and also popped up with two goals in last season's Europa League.

Adding in games for Roma at the back end of last season, the fleet-footed wide man has scored six times in his last four away matches so is a huge threat on the break when he can show his pace and eye for goal.

A goal for either Firmino or Salah puts us in profit and, as at Watford, it's perfectly possibly both could find the net.

Recommended Bets
Back Mo Salah To Score @ 3.10
Back Roberto Firmino To Score @ 2.90

0 nhận xét Blogger 0 Facebook

Post a Comment