Jordan Henderson: Liverpool's Champions League qualifier with Hoffenheim is a "great opportunity"

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is looking forward to facing Hoffenheim in the club's Champions League play-off round first-leg on Tuesday night and believes the Reds can rise to the occasion.

Jordan Henderson: Liverpool's Champions League qualifier with Hoffenheim is a "great opportunity"
(Picture: Getty Images - Andrew Powell)

Jordan Henderson believes Liverpool have a "great opportunity" in the Champions League ahead of their qualifying first-leg away at Hoffenheim.

The Reds take on the Bundesliga outfit for a place in the competition's group stages and first travel to Germany for Tuesday night's opening encounter.

Liverpool finished fourth in the Premier League last season after a hard-fought campaign to give themselves a chance of a Champions League return, for only the second time since 2009.

And captain Henderson believes that Jürgen Klopp's side have the quality to overcome their opponents in what he believes is exactly the type of challenge they want to face.

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"It will be a very tough game"

Henderson told reporters: "It's a great opportunity for us as a team, one that we want. Last year obviously one of the aims was to quality for the Champions League and these next two games give us that opportunity."

The skipper declared that the Reds are "looking forward to it" and are "excited", adding that they hope to "put on a good performance and get a good result to take back to Anfield."

He called the showdown with Hoffenheim both "a big test" and "a big opportunity" which he said is how Liverpool have "got to look at it."

"Over the two games, if we can win then we've qualified for the Champions League and that was the aim last season, so we need to finish it off with these two games," the midfielder continued.

Henderson explained that it will be "a very tough game" against "a very good side" who will "make it difficult."

But he said that he is "very confident" that Liverpool "can get through to the group stage" because of their "quality" and if they are "performing to the level we know we can."

Henderson insisted that he and his Liverpool team-mates will be "aware" that the game will not be decided in the first-leg alone, nothing that they will "play as it is." 

He acknowledged the importance of the first-leg but said that they have to "have it in your mind that it is over two legs" and that they must "take each game as it comes."

The 27-year-old that it is "a big test" and called upon Liverpool to "get a good result to take back to Anfield" - adding: "We're looking forward to it. It's a big game and a big opportunity for us."

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Henderson believes Reds can use previous European disappointments as motivation

On their opponents, who finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season, Henderson said that Liverpool "know a bit" about their opponents because ex-Hoffenheim forward Roberto Firmino and former Mainz and Borussia Dortmund boss Klopp "know a lot about them."

He hailed Hoffenheim as a "well-organised, aggressive team" who are "very good at set-pieces" with forwards such as "[Andrej] Kramarić and [Sandro] Wagner scored a lot of goals between them."

Henderson also noted that ex-Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry is on loan at the Rhein-Necker-Arena, reiterating that Liverpool "know a bit about them" and know it will be "a very tough test" though hoping the visitors "can get a good result" if they "produce our quality on the night."

The first-leg will be Liverpool's first European outing since the Europa League final in May 2016, when the club surrendered a 1-0 half-time advantage to lose 3-1 to Sevilla.

Recalling that night in Switzerland, Henderson insisted it was "a tough night" to lose out but insisted that Liverpool have "got to use that" and "make sure you don't have that feeling again."

He said: "We can certainly use that tomorrow going into the game, using that angriness to have a good European campaign this year. Hopefully it can help us going forward."

Liverpool come into the game off the back of a 3-3 draw at Watford in their opening Premier League game at the weekend, having led 3-2 at Vicarage Road until the 94th minute.

Despite spurning the chance to claim the full three points, Henderson insisted that the mood within the Liverpool camp remains "very positive" although the team were "disappointed" with the draw.

The Reds' No.14 warned that "in football you've got to get over things like that quickly" and insisted there still "a lot of positives from the game" though they "need to work on a couple of things", calling upon Liverpool to do so in Hoffenheim to take an advantage back to Merseyside next week.