Liverpool will take a one-goal lead into their second leg tie against the German team Hoffenheim in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers. Local lad, Trent Alexander-Arnold, making only his 14th appearance for the club scored a well-placed free kick to put Liverpool ahead.
Then disaster struck for Hoffenheim as former West Ham player, Havard Nordveit, deflected a James Milner ball into his own net. Simon Mignolet had parried away a penalty by former Leicester man, Andrej Kramaric, in the eleventh minute; but Hoffenheim did finally get their goal after Mark Uth exploited the offside trap to his a well struck left foot finish into the bottom corner in the 87th minute.
Liverpool’s victory was the first home defeat suffered by Hoffenheim since the last day of the 2015/16 season and they had to work for the win, as well as riding their luck at times too. The Germans dominated possession throughout the game, as you’d expect and they probably felt they should have at least drawn the game; especially after Kramaric missed the spot kick early on.
It has to be seen as a great achievement for Liverpool to claim a 2-1 victory at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena. Klopp had already stated before the match, that it would be difficult to get a result; they managed to do so without Philippe Coutinho, and in a stadium where the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund failed to come away with a win against Hoffenheim.
One thing that was once again evident were the defensive frailties at the back for Liverpool. After conceding 3 against Watford at the weekend, they conceded again against Hoffenheim, a goal that was preventable, to say the least. A long ball in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold, saw the Liverpool backline practically stop as they looked for an offside flag. Mark Uth brought the ball down on his chest and expertly finished past Mignolet. Liverpool have great attacking resources but do certainly need to tighten up at the back. They need a leader, an organiser and quickly.
Looking ahead to the return leg at Anfield, Hoffenheim will go into the game, knowing that they can score. That will give them a huge amount of confidence and they’ll certainly know that the tie is far from over. You would expect Klopp’s charges to get the job done, even in the absence of Coutinho. Liverpool can score goals against any side and are able to stretch teams with the abundance of pace in their ranks.
Hoffenheim have to come to Anfield and score. This could play right into Liverpool’s hands as they can counter extremely quickly through the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Mane was a constant thorn in the German’s sides in the first leg and Jurgen Klopp will be looking for another repeat performance from the Senegalese international. With both sides playing their league fixtures on the Saturday, it means that there is plenty of recovery time before the tie. An intense and possibly end to end game should be in store, with Liverpool the likely winners.