Klopp happy to head Hoff' to Germany again

Liverpool v Atletico Madrid, Aviva Staidum, KO 5pm

Jurgen Klopp is wary of Hoffenheim’s young team. Photo: Getty Images

Phil Blanche

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has welcomed a Champions League clash with Hoffenheim, admitting that he felt that he would be heading back to his native Germany in the play-off round.

Klopp hailed the tie "really exciting" after Liverpool and Hoffenheim - who both finished fourth in the respective leagues last season - were paired together at yesterday's draw in Nyon.

Liverpool will head to Klopp's homeland for the opening leg on August 15 before hosting Hoffenheim at Anfield eight days later.

"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 said.

"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.

"(They are a) strong side. When you are fourth in Germany you are a strong side.

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

"They lost two of them - (Sebastian) Rudy and (Niklas) Sule to Bayern (Munich) - and had a little change. (They have) a very young manager (Julian Nagelsmann), just 30 years old, a very talented man. It's really exciting."

The tie pitches Roberto Firmino against his former club. Liverpool have progressed from 14 of 16 two-legged knockout ties against German opposition

Celtic's reward for their third qualifying round victory over Rosenborg is to once again make the near 8,000-mile round trip to Kazakhstan.

Brendan Rodgers' side played Astana in the Champions League last season, drawing 1-1 away before winning the Parkhead return 2-1 thanks to a last-gasp Moussa Dembele penalty.

"We are happy with it," Rodgers said of the draw. "The beauty for us on this one is it is not the unknown.

"We know what it is like out there - hotel, astroturf pitch, virtually the same players.

"It will be as tough as last year but we look forward to it and will be ready for it."

Celtic will host the first leg on August 16 before the away game in Astana six days later.