Liverpool v Villarreal: Betting tips, predictions, odds & match preview
Liverpool host Villarreal for the opening leg of their Champions League semi-final tie at Anfield on Wednesday evening.
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Liverpool won their last Champions League tie, beating Benfica 6-4 on aggregate in the quarter-finals. After earning a 3-1 victory in the first leg, they played out a 3-3 draw in the return match at home. Roberto Firmino caught the eye with a brace in the second leg. They are unbeaten in their last 10 games in all competitions (eight wins and two draws). In attack, Mohamed Salah has been a key performer for Liverpool in Champions League play. He is their leading scorer with eight goals, which is the fourth highest among the competition’s top scorers in 2021/22, two of which have been the tone-setting first of the match. Liverpool have been tough to beat on home soil this Champions League season with three wins, one draw, and just one loss in five contests. The Reds will be out to prolong a four-match home unbeaten streak (three wins and one draw) in all competitions. In their last six matches in all competitions, Liverpool have won four and drawn two. They scored 17 and conceded eight in that run, scoring first in five of the six contests. A majority of their goals (nine) came in the first half, while their opponents netted three times in the first 45 minutes.
Villarreal won their last Champions League tie, beating Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals. After earning a 1-0 victory in the first leg at home, they played out a 1-1 draw in the return match. Samuel Chukwueze was the sole player to score in the second-leg draw. They are undefeated in their last five games in all competitions (three wins and two draws). Leading the way for the Yellow Submarine the final third is Arnaut Danjuma, who has scored on six occasions in this Champions League campaign, including two match-opening goals. Villarreal boast a fine away record in the competition this season with three wins, one draw, and just one loss in matches away from home. Villarreal have won three, drawn two and lost one in their last six. They scored seven and conceded five in that period, netting first in three of the six. Most of their goals (five) came in the first half, while their opponents netted two times before the break.
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Liverpool vs Villarreal match stats
Liverpool have reached the semi-final of the European Cup/Champions League for the 12th time, with no English side playing in the final four more often (level with Manchester United). Indeed, as a club, the Reds have reached the semi-finals of the League Cup, FA Cup and European Cup in the same campaign for the very first time. Of the 12 sides to have reached the semi-finals of the European Cup/Champions League on at least five occasions, only Benfica (7/8) and AC Milan (10/12) have a higher ratio of progressing to the final than Liverpool (82%), who have managed to reach the final on nine of their previous 11 occasions. Only in 2017-18 (10) has Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah scored more Champions League goals in a single campaign than the eight he’s bagged this season, moving his tally for the club onto 33. The Egyptian forward is now just three behind both Didier Drogba (Chelsea) and Sergio Agüero (Man City) for the most goals netted in the competition for an English side (36 each).
During his managerial career, Villarreal boss Unai Emery has faced Liverpool five times (once with Sevilla and four times with Arsenal), with those matches producing 26 goals (5.2 per game on average), and both teams netting in each. Of the remaining players in the competition this season, only Karim Benzema (15) has registered more “secondary chances” created than Villarreal’s Dani Parejo (14), which is the pass played before the final pass sets up a shot or goal, highlighting a player’s influence on their team’s ability to find shooting opportunities. Since the start of the 2009/10 season, the inaugural Europa League campaign, Villareal manager Unai Emery has progressed from 84% of his Europa League/Champions League knockout ties (31/37), the second-best ratio of any manager to have taken charge of at least 10, after only Zinedine Zidane (14/16 – 88%). Since a 2-1 victory in Merseyside over Everton back in August 2005, Villarreal haven’t managed to win any of their last eight away games in England in all competitions (D3 L5); already tasting defeat at Old Trafford in the group stages earlier this season.
Liverpool and Villarreal have met just twice before in European competition, with both sides winning their home leg of the 2015/16 Europa League semi-finals, when Liverpool would go on to progress to the final against Unai Emery’s Sevilla.
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