Liverpool saw off Villareal in what seemed like a routine 2-0 win last week at Anfield, but will the Yellow Submarines spring surprises as they welcome Klopp’s men to their home?
Apex Football takes a dive into the possible outcomes of tonight’s Champions League return leg fixture between Villareal and Liverpool.
A third Champions League final in five years is within reach for Jurgen Klopp and his men when they face Villareal at home tonight. It is obvious that Klopp would not be taking chances as he rotated his squad at the weekend to rest some key players.
But will Villareal spring another upset like they have done in the past rounds? Unai Emery will be hoping to make the Kops suffer when the whistle goes off at Estadio de la Cerámica.
What to Expect
The Yellow Submarines could not get a goal at Anfield, which means they would come out swinging in order to cut the 2-goal deficit. With the return of Gerrard Moreno who missed the first leg due to injury, Villareal will be pressing for goals.
It’s an uphill battle for Villareal but the coach is not ruling out victory. He insists that his team needs to pull off a perfect performance to do the impossible.
“We’ll have to produce a perfect game, reach excellence or get close to it to be able to do something that no one has done to them.” the former Arsenal Manager said in his press briefing.
Liverpool will be going into this tie with full confidence as a result of their impeccable away form. Klopp’s men have been flawless in away fixtures this season having won five of their games on the road including victories at Atletico Madrid, Porto, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Benfica.
They would be prepared for Villareal’s attack but they have good runners to depend on for counter attacks.
While their domestic title destiny remains out of their own hands, Liverpool are only 90 minutes away from making their 10th appearance in the final of Europe’s premier cup tournament – only Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and AC Milan have also posted double-figure appearances in the showpiece event.
Victory at Newcastle represented Liverpool’s fifth on the bounce in all tournaments – their last four of which have come with a clean sheet – and not since going down to Leicester City in December have Klopp’s side lost on the road in any competition.
Villarreal’s treatment room has started to fill up again at the worst time possible, with ex-Liverpool man Alberto Moreno and Yeremi Pino still absent, while Arnaut Danjuma was ruled out of the Alaves defeat at the last minute due to discomfort and is uncertain. Francis Coquelin and Raul Albiol will hope to be fine for the second leg, it is up to Unai Emery to play Gerard Moreno who still has a hamstring problem.
Pau Torres and Dani Parejo were taken off at half time in a tactical move from Emery at the weekend, and the Villarreal boss will revert to his strongest possible XI this week after ringing the changes for the domestic encounter.
In contrast, Liverpool’s only injury concern remains Brazilian attacker Roberto Firmino, whose foot injury is proving more difficult to overcome than initially anticipated, and he will not be involved here.
Curtis Jones and Kostas Tsimikas both returned from illness to make the bench for the win over Newcastle, while cult hero Divock Origi is also fit again after picking up a bug, and Klopp was not afraid to make a multitude of changes at St James’ Park.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Mohamed Salah and Thiago Alcantara are among those who will return to the first XI this week, and a 15th Champions League knockout goal for Sadio Mane would see him equal the record for the most strikes at this stage of the tournament for an English club – currently held by Frank Lampard.
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