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Friday, 4 August 2017

Jurgen Klopp: Liverpool manager had Hoffenheim play-off premonition

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he expected to meet a German team in the Champions League play-off round

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he had a feeling his side would draw German opposition after they were paired with Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off round on Friday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he had a feeling his side would draw German opposition after they were paired with Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off round on Friday.

Liverpool will travel to Klopp's homeland for the first leg on August 15 before Hoffenheim visit Anfield the following week, with a place in the group phase at stake.

"Very interesting. Actually, it was exactly what I expected when I had a look -- if there's a choice, we always seem to take the German team! Sorry!" Klopp told the Liverpool website.

"It was clear from the first moment when we knew who we could face that there would be no easy game. It's Hoffenheim and that's for sure not an easy game.

"But we should always not forget what they thought in the moment they saw the draw -- it's not the best thing they could get. I'm completely fine with it, happy to know and now we can start preparing."

The tie will pit Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino against his former club, the Brazilian having left Hoffenheim to move to England in 2015.

Hoffenheim were the last team in Europe's top five leagues to lose their unbeaten record last season, but have since seen Germany internationals Niklas Suele and Sebastian Rudy snapped up by Bayern Munich.

Nevertheless, Klopp says they will represent a stiff test and was full of praise for their 30-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann.

"When you are fourth in Germany, you are a strong side," said Klopp, whose side also finished fourth last season.

"It's a very interesting club. They have a lot of really good young players.

"They lost two of them -- Rudy and Suele to Bayern -- and had a little change. (They have) a very young manager, just 30 years old, a very talented man.

"First we'll play Watford, but at the same time we'll start preparing for Hoffenheim and it's really exciting."

'Centre of attention'

Nagelsmann believes the clash with Liverpool will help put his club on the map.

"This puts us at the centre of attention," he said. "This is great for the public perception of our club."

Nagelsmann, who only turned 30 last month, is one of the most highly rated young coaches in the game.

He proved his talent by taking Hoffenheim from the brink of relegation in 2015-16 to finish fourth last season in Germany's top flight.

Nagelsmann knows his side face a difficult task, but says they will approach the tie full of belief.

"They won't be knocking back a few whiskeys just because they are playing us, but it's not as though we have no chance," he said.

"Liverpool were by far the strongest team in the pot, but it is not as though I would have rather played against Napoli. If you want to win the cup, you have to beat every opponent at some point."

Nagelsmann knows Klopp, 50, personally as they both have the same agent.

"We write messages to each other from time to time," said Nagelsmann.

"I like him because he has remained normal. And I rate him as a coach."



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