???️ Liverpool V Hoffenheim, The Most Important Game This Year

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By Mark Mason @MMason00   It is quite remarkable after only three games to label the next as the biggest we will have this season. Hopefully by next June I will have been made to look a fool for having done so. However unless we are playing for the elusive Premier League title or a 6th big ears. It’s hard to imagine a more pressing game than our clash on Wednesday night with Hoffenheim. A Carling/Coca Cola/Milk cup final won’t cut it. Unfortunately neither will an FA cup, masking shortcomings through FA cups is solely the domain of Arsenal.   Our entry into the Champions League groups has the ability to make or break this year in so many ways. To qualify, having been drawn against the toughest of opposition,  would signal the next step forward in Klopp’s revolution. Whereas, a loss would be the proverbial two steps back.   No Champions League football would prove that Phil Coutinho is right to demand an exit. We are not a team heading in the right direction. It will also make the chance of signing a Coutinho quality replacement for his eventual departure, most likely next year, far reduced.   Qualifying would send out a signal to all of the players mulling over their future around Europe, Liverpool is the train to climb aboard. It would provide us with a strengthened hand in any upcoming transfer deals this window. It is undoubtedly true that the best players want the guarantee of playing in the Champions League. If we want these players we have to offer them the chance to play in the best competitions.   It could also be a watershed moment for all those still on the fence on the management of the club. FSG have taken us a long way from the days of Roy Hodgson and Konchesky but have only delivered one trophy in that time. The tight budget they have operated on recently, while teams all around us are throwing cash around, will be even more harshly viewed.   The unthinkable may even happen and the first anti Klopp mutterings beginning to surface may gather strength. Elimination could have a tremendously divisive effect on the club. We need only look at how this is ripping Arsenal apart. We don’t want redmentv to become like arsenalfantv, you hear me blood, you know I mean fam.   It seems incredible that one match could signify so much, however football has always been a game of small margins. The margin for error on Wednesday is about as small as it can get.   Lest we forget failure to qualify would not signify our expulsion from Europe but rather our relegation to the Europa League. We have tangible experience of the damaging effect Thursday night football can have on a league campaign. For the continued growth of the club, we have to allow for other teams to fall into the vicious circle we have inhabited for the last seven years.   Luckily we go into the game Wednesday with the huge advantage of leading the tie. The two away goals act as a buffer. We can go into the game knowing that a draw, even possibly a loss, will be enough for us to progress. Yet as the song goes. “We are Liverpool” we may be the best football team in the land, but we seldom like to do things easily and the game is far from over.   Hoffenheim troubled us for the whole of the first leg. We looked second best for large periods of time in the first half. It was a game in which they missed a penalty and had a goal rightly, but only marginally, ruled out for offside. They are a strong team with one of the best young managers in Europe with Naggelsman.   Their movement up front gave us great problems and we can expect that again. Their forwards intentionally taking up offside positions made it hard for our defence to hold a line. We were caught out a number of times when our midfielders failed to pick up deep runs from their midfield. Our failure to do this against Watford cost us a goal and suggests it is a well thought out tactic.   The second half also saw the increasingly targeted assault on Alberto Moreno. The stream of cross field balls exposed his lack of height, which is not his fault. However, it also exposed his lack of defensive capability, much more his fault. If we want to progress, which we obviously do, we need to find solutions to these problems.   However all is not doom and gloom, let’s not forget the trouble we gave a team unbeaten at home for a year. What Mane did to their left CB was brutal, illegal in some countries, and demonstrated how exposed a three CB defence can be with him and Salah out wide.   Hoffenheim supposedly didn’t water their pitch in an attempt to slow down our speedsters. That may afford Salah a slight pass for his failure when played through 1-on-1 against their high back line. Without doubt Anfield will be well watered, playing with a high back line against us will be suicidal. Yet, Hoffenheim have no choice. With a minimum of two goals required to keep the game alive, they must push forward. The multitude of missed chances we had in the last thirty minutes  show how dangerous this is for them.   Klopp gambled against palace and rested a number of first team players. Unfortunately for these players the replacements did well. It will be interesting to see the team Klopp opts to go with. The management of the squad and rotation of players is vital with the added European matches. Resting four potential starters in Can, Salah, TAA and Lovren, is something Hoffenheim will most likely be unable to replicate. So early in the season players shouldn’t be overly tired, but every advantage possible is beneficial.   What ever team we put out, with the players at our disposal we should progress through the game on Wednesday. We must progress through the game on Wednesday. Anything less can not be sugar coated, it would represent a disaster. This is why it is probably are most important game of the year. So let’s get behind the lads, “COME ON REDMEN” By Mark Mason @MMason00
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