Liverpool to face Hoffenheim in Champions League

Celtic will play Kazakhstan side Astana for place in group stages

Liverpool will play Hoffenheim in the Champions League play-off round.

The draw sees Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp return to his native Germany and striker Roberto Firmino take on his former club.

Scottish champions Celtic meet Kazakhstan side Astana, who they beat in the third qualifying round last season.

Jürgen Klopp’s side will be favourites against Hoffenheim, but they will be tested by a team who survived relegation under Julian Nagelsmann before pulling off a surprise top-four finish. They never lost a single Bundesliga game under the manager, with 12 wins and six draws.


The first legs will be in Germany and Glasgow, on August 15th or 16th. The return legs are the following week, with Liverpool playing Crystal Palce in the Premier League in the weekend between the two. Liverpool play Arsenal the following weekend.

Coached by 30-year-old Nagelsmann — the youngest manager in Europe’s top five leagues — Hoffenheim had the second-best defensive record in the division and only champions Bayern Munich suffered fewer defeats.

Meanwhile Napoli meet Mario Balotelli’s Nice. The 10 playoff winners will join the 22 sides who have already qualified in the draw for the group stages.

Full draw:

Qarabag v FC Copenhagen
APOEL v Slavia Prague
Olympiacos v Rijeka
Celtic v Astana
Hapoel Beer Sheva v Maribor
Istanbul Basaksehir v Sevilla
Young Boys v CSKA Moscow
Napoli v Nice
Hoffenheim v Liverpool
Sporting Lisbon v Steaua Bucharest