Retired German footballer Lutz Pfannenstiel, who is famous for being the first footballer to have played professionally in all six FIFA confederations, is now working as Head of International Relations and Scouting at Hoffenheim.
Lutz kindly agreed to talk to Anfield HQ ahead of Liverpool’s crucial encounter with the German side in their Champions League play-off on Tuesday.
How do you feel about drawing Liverpool in the Champions League play-off? Are Liverpool a team you wanted to avoid?
I think it’s a great draw for us. We are in Europe for the first time and it’s amazing to measure ourselves with the big boys.
— TSG Hoffenheim EN (@achtzehn99_en) August 14, 2017
Was it a surprise to have finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season?
After just avoiding relegation the season before you could call it a surprise. But if you look at the way we played last season and the way every single player developed then I think we really deserved that place.
With a bit of luck we could have finished third, but I’m very pleased with last season.
How confident are Hoffenheim going into this season and are you happy with the clubs’ transfer business?
We worked hard in pre-season and managed to integrate all our new players quite fast. After last season we have to go into the new season with confidence.
— TSG Hoffenheim EN (@achtzehn99_en) August 12, 2017
What can we expect from Hoffenheim in terms of style of play?
It is nearly impossible to describe our playing style under Julian Nagelsmann. I would call it variable.
Would you have preferred to be playing the second leg at the Rhein Neckar rather than the first?
Of course it would have been better, but at the end of the day it’s two games and both teams will try their best to reach the group stage. I don’t believe in those kind of statistics. The pressure will be on Liverpool and not on us.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 14, 2017
How impressed have you been with Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp?
Klopp is a brilliant manager, one of the best Germany ever produced. It took a bit of time for them to adjust to his style of play, but I think he is the right guy to put the Reds where they belong.
They should be a team which is looking to win the Premier League title every year.
Are those at the club looking forward to playing against former Hoffenheim star Roberto Firmino?
We are very happy to see Roberto again. He was not just a great player, but a very nice person too. It’s good to see that he already left his mark at Liverpool. I think his style of football fits Jürgen Klopp’s style perfectly.
How impressed have you been with Firmino at Liverpool?
I still follow him a lot and I think that he already showed that he was a great signing. I think he will even become better, because he works hard, has the mentality to improve and is hungry for success.
Are you confident that Hoffenheim can beat Liverpool and qualify for the Champions League?
I think, for us, it is a real treat to play against Liverpool in the biggest game in our clubs history. Most people see Liverpool as the big favourites and we are okay with that. I think there is a lot of respect between both teams, but we can’t wait till the game starts.
Follow Lutz on Twitter: @1_LPfannenstiel