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Hoffenheim 1 – 2 Liverpool: Match Report

Three years is a very long time, very long time indeed when you spend it waiting for Champions League football to return to Anfield.

After securing fourth place in the 2016/17 Premier League contest, Liverpool went on to play TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, the former club of Roberto Firmino and the team that also finished fourth in the Bundesliga.

Saturday saw the Reds fall to a 3-3 draw in the dying seconds of the league opener away to Watford, but Jurgen Klopp chose the same line-up nevertheless.

On the other hand, Julian Nagelsmann, the home team’s 30-year-old head coach, went for the modern 3-4-2-1 formation, with the following personnel:

The game immediately opened up, with its flow shifting constantly from the word go. Liverpool started on the front foot, but it didn’t take long for Hoffenheim to push them back and start creating problems. Five minutes in, Alberto Moreno made a mistake which could have had a much worse outcome, but Joel Matip was there to set the matter straight. Just two minutes later, Simon Mignolet was called into action and he did well to save the skin of Dejan Lovren. But only 60 more seconds had passed when Moreno employed Salah at the other end but the Egyptian’s shot was blocked and then Baumann saved one from Sadio Mane.

10 minutes, another blunder by Moreno, this time positional, left Lovren in a very difficult situation where he had to stop Serge Gnabry one-on-one inside the box. The Arsenal loanee managed to nutmeg him and then fall down after some contact. Penalty.

Andrej Kramaric, formerly of Leicester City, stepped up, and took as poor a penalty as you’re ever likely to see as Mignolet effortlessly punched away the ball that came straight at him with very little pace.

From that moment on, something snapped in the will of the home team and they seemed dejected and not showing nearly enough focus. A severe punishment could have arrived for them three minutes later when Vogt’s mistake allowed Salah to go through and have a one-on-one with the keeper, but the winger directed the ball onto his weaker right foot whilst enabling Vogt to catch up, and then his weak shot went wide of the target.

Moreno was plainly having a howler of a game, and it’s fair to say that his performance really hurt his chances of retaining the left-back spot for the following games. His mistake after 23 minutes allowed Hoffenheim to cause real trouble again, but Wagner ruined it with a shot that was both hasty and inaccurate. Two minutes later it was Liverpool captain’s turn to make a mistake but the home team again failed to cause any real concern.

As time went by, the Reds slowly got a grip on the direction of the game, taking advantage of Hoffenheim’s lack of drive and confidence.

With half an hour gone, Mane went past his man with a great little dribble but then misplaced his pass. Two minutes later Trent Alexander-Arnold won the ball high up, then he lost it having entered the box, and then he blocked an attempted clearance in such a way that Baumann only just managed to keep the ball out of his net.

And then the moment we’d been waiting for actually happened. Mane broke through the middle, giving his marker no choice but to bring him down and pick up a yellow card for it. Alexander-Arnold took the free-kick ahead of Moreno, Mane and Emre Can. His shot had something of Luis Suarez in it, as it went low but over the wall, and then curved down towards the bottom corner, slightly missing the post on the inside and leaving the keeper rooted to the spot, staring in disbelief.

0:1.

Thus the Reds took a well-deserved lead in the 35th minute, and the significance of it being an away goal can hardly be over-emphasized. Just two minutes after they could have easily added another when Henderson intercepted a pass in Liverpool’s half and Matip blasted it forward. It reached Salah who came in from the right and pulled it back towards Can. Can then shot straight at the keeper, even though he had a fantastic option in Mane coming in from the left.

But three minutes before the break, Moreno was beaten in the air and a great chance opened up for Gnabry, but Mignolet would have none of it. His save was followed by Wagner’s feeble attempt that went wide.

In the dying seconds of the half, Firmino engaged Mane, but Mane’s shot was blocked and went out for a corner. Lovren was the best in the air but his header went wide by an inch.

As soon as the play restarted after the break, Hoffenheim came threatening, but for once Moreno did some good defending and cleared it up.

The second period started just like the first, with momentum constantly shifting and both teams playing to score. Mane created a brilliant chance for Firmino and the Brazilian should have scored from close range, but the ‘keeper was up to the task. In the next Hoffenheim attack Gnabry beat Mignolet with a strong shot to the near post and hit the net, only for the goal to be disallowed for offside. Then Mane had a shot saved, and Can got booked for preventing a counterattack with a foul.

The clock was showing 51 minutes when Nagelsmann realized he needed to change something. Bicakcic was taken off and Havard Nordtveit came on, and Nadiem Amiri replaced Rupp just one minute later.

Over the next few minutes, Moreno performed another howler, simply abysmal estimation of a long ball as well as his opponent’s movement and got away with it, Alexander-Arnold got booked for some strong words directed to the referee, while Lovren performed some excellent defending against Amiri.

Around the hour mark, the absence of Adam Lallana in Liverpool midfield became obvious as Can constantly took too much time on the ball. Taking too many touches, he was needlessly slowing the game down just when it seemed it might open up for Liverpool as wide players made runs. But Klopp chose to keep him on the pitch and take Henderson out. Can dropped into the midfield-anchoring position while James Milner entered the fray and took the armband.

The game went on with both teams creating chances. Nagelsmann made his last substitution in the 69th minute when he replaced Gnabry with Mark Uth.

Lovren had another good header after a corner but this time the ‘keeper saved it off the line.

After 74 minutes had gone, Firmino found Milner on the left wing and the stand-in captain tried to employ Salah on the far post, but his cross got deflected and ended up in the net.

0:2.

No more than Liverpool deserved.

Over the next 10 minutes only Liverpool played, the home team was nowhere to be seen, but at the end of that period legs got heavy and focus slipped. Dominic Solanke who replaced Firmino in the 83rd minute, won a header high up the pitch two minutes later and sent it to Mane, but the Senegalese seemed exhausted by that time and couldn’t do much anymore.

In the 87th minute, the lack of focus was costly. A long diagonal pass from the back found Uth. Matip was marking him and decided to step out and create on an offside trap, but Lovren failed to keep the back line straight and played Uth onside. Hoffenheim striker produced a brilliant shot to the far bottom corner and scored a goal that will give hope to the German team, hope that all is not lost just yet.

1:2.

Klopp then sent Marko Grujic on instead of Mane, and this time his attempt to see the game out was successful, even though Hoffenheim had a great opportunity to score from a set-piece, but Hubner’s header went over the bar. The last thing worthy of mention was a decent effort from Grujic but it was saved.

Liverpool have therefore created a great foundation for the return-leg at Anfield, with two away goals scored and one-goal advantage. But before they can think about that – they host Crystal Palace.

Let’s walk on.

mm
Veselin Trajkovic
A sports enthusiast, Liverpool FC fan, writing for several blogs, likes to focus on football for what it is, rather than stats or bias. Writing for FOAR since its inception.
  • OldFlaky

    Btw, we should get a tapping-up fee for PeeCee since the club say he is not for sale, so no talks allowed and no agreement can take place.

  • OldFlaky

    José Segura, sports director at Barca, say after the defeat to RM tonight that they are near an agreement with PeeCee.

    Edit:
    And Dembele

    • Dennis Chong

      Guess we can’t expect him to say “we submitted a 3rd bid, but they sent our rep flying through the door…..”

  • KeithSA

    Not sure why you saw Moreno in that light. I thought he had another decent game and offers quite alot with his link up play with Mane. He also looks much more solid at the back and saved us on more than one occasion. yes he git beaten down the line for an obvious chance that did look bad but overall he certainly was far from the worst player on the pitch. That goes to Gini by a country mile.

    • herrdoktorprofessor

      to be fair to the Moreno critics (of which I’m not necessarily one). On the play that led to their pen opportunity Moreno did get caught way out of position pressing their keeper. He was about 60 yards from where he should have been.

      • KeithSA

        That’s why there is a team when one player presses others cover. Firstly to say he was caught out for the penalty is extremely unfair as Lovren had it covered and it was a harsh decision and for me not a penalty

    • gegenpressing

      Moreno’s promising combination with Mane was definitely one of the highlights of that game. Think a lot of LFC fans have so many scars from Moreno that they can no longer recognize or accept anything good he does. He has his deficiencies, for sure but going so high up has to be from intruction otherwise he wouldn’t get played…

      • OldFlaky

        Chasing the ball played back to keeper cannot be one of Morenos tasks.

  • Abbo Dave

    Goddangit.. I’m not seeing a way to post pictures in replies, so here. Dion Simpson, not TAA. You bunch of racists.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8289dfda5d95add26a3771f80ea44b08c656f9a880f82bff697343cf71532ed3.jpg

  • Abbo Dave

    God, now they’re saying we’re on the brink of signing Jean Michael Seri, an African midget from the French league. The way I see it, that’s three strikes already.

    Hey, is it racist to call someone a pygmy?

    • KeithSA

      No not if they are actually a pygmy:) Maybe ask Trump for advice he seems to have a good handle on the correct moral compass these days:)

      • Abbo Dave

        I can think of another thing Trump has a good handle on. Vagina. I can think of vagina.

        • NG

          Hahahah

        • KeithSA

          He would understand that unless it hit him in the face

    • Brighton Red

      ‘ Hey, is it racist to call someone a pygmy? ‘

      yeah it bloody is ~ but if he’s a midget call him an effin midget and sod the consequences ~ bloody PC gone mad 😉 ………………………………….

      • herrdoktorprofessor

        actually ‘midget’ is a pejorative term. They prefer to be called ‘little people’

        • Abbo Dave

          Sorry, I do believe I meant to say “dwarf”… fourth language etc etc… But seriously, “little people”? If anyone ever called me something that adorable I’d be pretty close to being offended. Surely there’s a better term out there. I’m guessing “vertically challenged” isn’t PC enough these days so… “alternatively expanded”?

    • OldFlaky
  • Brighton Red

    last night Moreno provided the proof, once again, that those who think he is an asset to this club are wrong, you cannot seriously expect to compete at the highest level with this idiot in your team ~ ffs sell him ~ take a loss on him just get him off the books and start saving on his wages ~ the only reason to keep him ( Couts ) appears not to matter now so please shift him on.

    • Ian96

      Are you sure i didn’t write this post?
      Echore’s my thoughts exactly

      He is and always will be a pile of shite.

      • Brighton Red

        ha ha, I just don’t get what some folks see in him, I thought during pre season the penny might have dropped but it hasn’t, compare the performance in a Europa league final with a CL qualifier and there is no difference, he simply can’t defend and frankly he might be quick but he is utterley brainless.

        • Ian96

          Damn right. I thought he had turned a corner during pre season but onviously not. He was at fault before their penalty. He was his usual headless chicken chasing a ball in their penalty area that he had no right to chase. He is a liability. I stand by all the stick I’ve ever given the stupid prick.

    • Drewster

      I actually thought Lovren was as if not more poor than Moreno apart from his headers on goal. As Klopp said, our wingers are attacking so the full backs get isolated a bit. This is where midfield needs to support. There was none. Henderson to me had a very poor game and we looked stronger when he went off and Milner came in. Wijnaldum also seems to be running around like a lost fart in a whirlwind and seems completely unsure of what his two other midfield partners are going to do. The current 3 aren’t the answer if Lallana and Coutinho are out.

      I would start with Milner and Grujic against palace but Im not sure who to partner them with. Woodburn would be an option but who takes the holding role? Matip? and put Klavan and Gomez as Centre backs? Not sure here.

      • Brighton Red

        you may or may not be right but I was simply talking about Moreno, I thought Lovren was generally where you’d expect a centre half to be when the opposition had the ball ~ as was pointed out on telly Moreno was closing down their goalkeeper when they were in possesion and the thought occurs that a defender might have given some thought to his defensive responsibilities at that particular moment, he should have gone back to his position when the ball was played back to thier keeper not chase it like a dog after a ball.

        • Drewster

          I’m just saying I think its more than one person or position and as a team the defenders are left isolated. Midfielders have to cover when full backs go up and that’s not happening

          • Brighton Red

            yes I get that but TAA wasn’t caught out so much ( bar one ) and he was playing his first European match whereas Moreno is experienced and was all over the shop defensively ~ as usual.

      • Tbone187

        I think Klopp will look to play them into form as he did at the beginning of last season with our midfield.

  • Dennis Chong

    Palace in 4 days’ time, & the return leg another 4 days later & Arsenal 3 days after that. Our boys are going to be so knackered & the season’s barely 2 weeks old

    • NG

      Guess the young pups will get lots of chances this campaign… Can’t be playing the same players game after game… I do hope Coutinho wakes up his fucking idea! Vote up if you’re privy to this expression 😉

      • Brighton Red

        Coutinho loves the fans so much he puts in a transfer request 24 hours before the season starts ~ for me that’s bollocks and he can fuck off ~ why didn’t he put in his transfer request on 1st June if he was so keen to go ~ was it because he thought, like Messi does, that he wasn’t really needed there at the moment, what a wanker …………………………………………………..

        • NG

          I agree with you that he is an opportunist and the timing of it all is just detrimental to the well being of the club, players, staff and fans alike. With that being said, I wouldn’t mind using him for one more season before Barcelona swoops in.

          • Brighton Red

            He could have gone to Barca with my blessing in a year’s time ~ or if he’d made it clear to the club say by last Christmas ( like Van Dijk ) so the club had time to sort a replacement but on the day before the season starts I’d call that being a cunt. On that basis I’d love to keep him for the whole 5 years and not play him at all, what is he now 25 ?? so he’ll be 26 at world cup and 30 ( and still our player, and still not match sharp ) the one after so he’d be with another club and match fit for Brazil’s 2026 world cup qualifiers, but he’d be in his 30’s and they might have found someone else by then and of course no move to Barca until his contract is up ~ sponsorship money etc to cover wages ~ we’d lose the transfer fee but with the amount of money in the game now, ridiculous as it sounds, what will £100M plus mean in 5 years, I know it won’t happen but that’s what I’d be telling him ~ I’d make the price for being so poorly advised exceedingly high ~ I mean he only has to look at Sakho to see what could happen for pissing Klopp off.

  • Quicky Zebra

    Made up for Trent. Moreno is a threat on both ends of the pitch. Our midfield needs sorting out.. our defence needs a leader to sort it out. FSG needs to sort it out and help Kloppo with some new faces. Just 1 more game lads come on!

  • NG

    Tactically speaking, I feel Hoffenheim were short changed today… If they had more quality, we would be in very deep trouble… Lady luck was definitely on our side…

    • gegenpressing

      Yup, they definite;ly created enough chances to bury us but their finishing was off…But we were in their shoes against Watford…

      • NG

        Klopp and the “Brain” Buvac had better up their game 😉

    • Drewster

      We were due some after the shocking decisions in the Watford game

  • Riiseandshine

    Watching now on lfctv..so happy for TAA. Great goal!! Fantastic to see a young player get rewards for his hard work. Apparently spent a lot of his Summer at Melwood..made up for ye Kiddo 👍🏻

  • Stan Dinaround

    Have to say, most of the team worry me at the moment, but no more so than Wijnaldum.. He seems to be invisible for the most part… He went missing alot last season too, but these last 2 games, he has been nowhere… We need better all round, but he really needs to up his game.

    • Jason Patel

      For some reason playing Can disrupts the games of Gini and Hendo who are great with Lallana. Rather like the end of last season Klopp needs another plan when personnel are missing to make a formation work. Sounds like we were much better when Milly came on, do maybe that’s an answer while Lallana and Coutinho are out?

      • Stan Dinaround

        Can seems to be more of an ego than proper player.. Dont get me wrong, on his day he is immense, but your dead right, with those two, it doesnt work…

  • Squizzums
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