• @MarkMcInerney2

Liverpool's biggest game of the season

The draw for the 4 th qualifying round of this season’s UEFA Champions League was made, and Liverpool were drawn away to Hoffenheim. Jürgen Klopp’s men battled last season to finish in the top 4 places, which they successfully did. The perils of finishing 4 th however is the qualifier, which in this instance has led the Anfield club to play against a German side who finished 4 th in the Bundesliga. With the Premier League season not even started, is this Liverpool’s biggest game of the season?

The last time Liverpool played in the Champions League was in 2014/2015 season, in a group that consisted of Real Madrid, Basel and Ludogorets. Liverpool would have expected to at least finish second in that group, with Steven Gerrard captaining the side and Coutinho pulling the strings. The Merseysiders started the campaign well, beating Ludogorets 2-1 at Anfield. Little was it known that would be the only win for the rest of the campaign, a draw in the reverse fixture, defeat and draw versus Basel and two defeats against Real Madrid. In typical Liverpool fashion, and fittingly, Steven Gerrard was the last scorer for Liverpool in the Champions League. Liverpool will want to make amends to that record if they get through the qualifier.

Jürgen Klopp’s side look good in pre-season, the victory over Bayern Munich and the style in how they won it will give them confidence to feel as though they can compete at that level. If Liverpool defeat Hoffenheim, it’s a massive boost for the club in terms of their ambition to get back to becoming a force in Europe and financially a boost for the club. A defeat would mean Thursday night games in the Europa League, which Man Utd found out last season, comes at a cost. The burden of Thursday-Sunday football, is sometimes leaving managers with no time to train for the opposition because they have travelled back from places such as eastern Europe. This will mean more games played than the Champions League, while the quality of opposition is even better this season with the likes of Italian giant’s AC Milan, who have invested heavily in their squad. Liverpool do have some first-hand experience of this Hoffenheim team, who are managed by the youngest manager in Europe’s top five leagues – 30-year- old Julian Nagelsmann, Roberto Firmino use to play his trade at the German club. Jürgen Klopp would have played against them a number of times during his time with Borussia Dortmund. Although Liverpool fans would have been looking at the fixture list seeking out the big derby games, they know that losing Champions League football and being relegated to Europe’s second tier competition could be detrimental to their domestic

campaign ambitions.

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