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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Reds may be happy with stalemate on nervy night

Lively Hoffenheim could come up just short at Anfield

Mo Salah could have a big part to play for Liverpool
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Champions League playoff round second leg
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Wednesday

Liverpool rode their luck to achieve a 2-1 victory away to Hoffenheim last Tuesday and they can squeeze through to the Champions League group stage with a draw the return match at Anfield.

Normally Liverpool would need no encouragement to play offensively in front of their home fans.

However, the Reds might be a little more cautious against Hoffenheim, who will have earned their respect with a lively performance at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

The Premier League side's top priority is to protect the very strong position they have established.

Hoffenheim need to score twice to have any chance of progressing and will need to show more precision in front of goal than they did eight days ago.

Andrej Kramaric missed a great chance to put Hoffenheim in charge of the tie when his 11th-minute penalty was saved by Simon Mignolet.

Further saves from Mignolet were required to deny Serge Gnabry and Nadiem Amiri as the Germans exposed the frailties of Liverpool's back-line.

But the Reds were always a threat in attack and might have put the tie to bed completely.

Both teams struggled defensively and a high-scoring match is widely anticipated at Anfield with both teams to score priced up at heavily odds-on.

However, Liverpool were far from their best when sneaking a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Against Palace, Liverpool were happy to take the three points and not worry too much about the performance.

And their attitude may be similar against Hoffenheim as Jurgen Klopp knows that the result is all-important in such a high-stakes contest.

Much will depend on Hoffenheim's attitude.

They were also 1-0 winners at the weekend - seeing off Werder Bremen on home soil - but need to get back to the free-flowing football which produced 64 goals in 34 league games last season.

Julian Nagelsmann's side have the players to cause Liverpool problems.

Winger Gnabry, on loan from Bayern Munich, caused Liverpool problems in the first leg with his pace and movement and Kramaric is an obvious threat having scored 15 Bundesliga goals last season.

However, Nagelsmann must balance the desire to push forward against the risk of exposing his defence to the counter-attacking threat of pacy Liverpool attackers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

It could be very tactical early on with both teams recognising the importance of scoring an early goal.

At some stage Hoffenheim will have to go for broke but they might come up just short on a nervy night on Merseyside.

1pt 10-3 general

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Team news
Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne and Philippe Coutinho are still sidelined but no fresh injuries are reported.

Julian Nagelsmann has a fully fit squad to select from.

Key stat
Hoffenheim have lost two of their last eight away games.

It could be very tactical affair early on with both teams recognising the importance of scoring the first goal
E.W. Terms
Sky bet