Everything you need to know about Liverpool’s Champions League play-off opponents TSG 1899 Hoffenheim…
After beginning their 2017/18 Premier League campaign with a frustrating draw at Watford on Saturday, Liverpool now turn their attention to European endeavours and the small matter of a Champions League play-off with German side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.
The importance of participating in the Champions League proper for the Reds cannot be understated, not least for financial reasons with in excess of £13million paid out to participants before a ball is even kicked (source: Liverpool ECHO).
UEFA figures for last season’s tournament show Tottenham Hotspur received £35.42million despite failing to progress through to the knockout stages. With payments paid for every Group Stage point collected, in addition to each round reached, the overall winners can expect to take home upwards of £50million, in addition to the famous old trophy.
Liverpool’s journey towards a possible, if extremely unlikely, sixth success in the competition starts on Tuesday night when they play Hoffenheim in the first of a two-legged play-off. The losers will enter the Europa League.
The German side are currently enjoying the most successful period in their entire existence and are likely to provide a stern test of Jürgen Klopp‘s men.
Here are some interesting facts and pieces of information about a side that, like Liverpool, finished fourth in their domestic championship last term:
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Full name: Turn- und Sportgemeinschaft 1899 Hoffenheim e.V.
Founded: 1 July 1899 (118 years ago)
Nicknames: Die Kraichgauer (From Kraichgau region), achtzehn99 (1899)
Ground: WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena (opened 2009 | 30,150 capacity)
Manager: Julian Nagelsmann
? The modern-day club was formed in 1945, when gymnastics club Turnverein Hoffenheim (founded 1899) and football club Fußballverein Hoffenheim (founded 1921) merged.
? Hoffenheim is a small village, of fewer than 3,500 inhabitants, based in the south western Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region of Germany.
? At the beginning of the 1990s the club were a local amateur side before reaching the fifth division of the German football league system in 2000.
? Backed by the financial support of Dietmar Hopp, a billionaire computer software entrepreneur, they then quickly rose through the ranks and reached the Bundesliga for a first time in 2008.
? Last season’s fourth-placed finish was the first time they had bettered the 7th managed in their debut season in the Bundesliga.
? Key to their impressive season was an unbeaten home record in which they won 11 and drew six of the 17 matches played.
? The team also enjoyed the longest unbeaten run in the 2016/17 Bundesliga, which totalled 17 games between September and January.
? This season represents their first foray into European football.
? Manager Julian Nagelsmann has worked his way through the ranks from U17 boss after being forced to retire from a promising playing career due to persistent knee injuries. The 30-year-old, who took over first team duties in October 2015, signed a new long-term contract in June.
? No team scored more goals from set-pieces than the 16 managed by Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga last season (level with champions Bayern Munich). The tally equated to 25% of the 64 league goals the team scored in total.
? Forward duo Sandro Wagner (11) and Andrej Kramarić (15), formally of Leicester City, contributed 26 of the goals.
? Ex-West Ham United midfielder Håvard Nordtveit and on-loan Bayern winger Serge Gnabry, once of Arsenal, are the only other two players in the Hoffenheim squad with Premier League experience.
? Nagelsmann’s outfit were also strong at the other end of the pitch last term with only Bayern conceding fewer than the 37 goals scored against Hoffenheim during 2016/17.
? In addition to Roberto Firmino, who moved to Liverpool from Hoffenheim for £29million in July 2015, there is another connection between the two sides in the form of Markus Babbel. The retired full-back spent four seasons on Liverpool’s books between 2000-2004 and later managed Hoffenheim for 10 months in 2012.
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