17/18 Champions League Playoff | 1st Leg | Hoffenheim (A)

17/18 Champions League Playoff | 1st Leg | Hoffenheim (A)
August 14, 2017 Gary Fulcher

Liverpool mark their first appearance in the Champions League since the 2014/15 campaign with a trip to south-west Germany on Tuesday – 7.45pm kick off UK time – to face TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

This is the German club’s first appearance in a European competition, earned from a remarkable 4th placed finish in the Bundesliga last season – a feat all the more impressive when you take into consideration their 15th place finish in 2015/16 and that they are coached by recently turned 30 year old Julian Nagelsmann.

Links with Liverpool

Roberto Firmino spent four seasons at Hoffenheim, scoring 47 times in 151 league and cup appearances before signing for Liverpool before the start of the 2015/16 season. The Hoff (!) were once managed by former Red Markus Babbel (Feb 2012 – Dec 2012) and current thorn in Liverpool’s pursuit of Naby Keita, Ralf Ragnick, who coached the team from July 2006 until January 2011. Hoffenheim’s meteoric rise came under Ragnick, leading them to promotion to Bundesliga 2 at the end of the 206/07 season, and their first season in professional football in Germany.

Ragnick led Hoffenheim to a 2nd place finish in 2007/08, gaining promotion to Germany’s top tier for the first time in the club’s history. He followed that up by ending the first half of the season in 1st place with 35 points from 17 matches, and were crowned “Herbstmeister” (the un-official title of Autumn-Champions). Hoffenheim ended that campaign in 7th place with 55 points.

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