Liverpool and Villarreal meet for the opening leg of their Champions League semi-final tie at Anfield on Wednesday evening (20:00 UK time).
The sides 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.
Liverpool vs Villarreal betting tips from Squawka Bet
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Liverpool team news vs Villarreal:
- Doubts: Roberto Firmino
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Last time out in the Premier League quadruple-chasing Liverpool were made to sweat against Merseyside rivals Everton with Jurgen Klopp’s men breaking the deadlock 17 minutes after the half-time interval. They would ultimately run out 2-0 winners, subsequently remaining a point behind leaders Manchester City with five matches remaining this season.
As heavy favourites and with Villarreal expected to also be as rigid as the Toffees it could be another frustrating home outing for the Reds, but head coach Klopp feels the lessons learnt from their recent outing can provide a blueprint to outmanoeuvring the La Liga outfit. The wily German tactician switched from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 following the arrival of Luis Diaz and Divock Origi off the bench, with him stating afterwards: “We improved and we thought with the changes we made, we can give them another task to deal with, having a second striker in the centre. We didn’t need another build-up player, really.
“But if Div and Mo [Salah] don’t see the situation, pass the ball, follow the situation, chip it to the second post, and Robbo probably for the first time in the game showed up at the second post and scores, we are probably sitting here talking about a 0-0.”
At the break, Klopp would give his side the usual resounding team talk while his coaching staff pinpointed a way to break down a seemingly impregnable blue wall.
“There is one area where we scored the goals, which is behind the last line and I don’t think we showed up there at all in the first half, to be honest,” he told Sky Sports.
“We played around the formation. It’s really difficult. We had something like 87% possession in the first half, but it was really difficult because of the counter-attacking threat they have. If they (Everton) have one thing, it is real speed up front and Anthony Gordon is obviously a real talent and really quick and we had our problems there.
“So we showed one situation and stopped it eight times and what we could have done differently in the specific moments, accelerations, playing half-spaces, getting behind the line, even chipping balls behind the line because we played around and then in the centre, and in the centre they had more legs than us.
“Against a deep formation, you can have too many players behind the ball. We have a lot of passers but not a lot of receivers. The receivers only really move when they see they can get the ball, but you need these movements without getting the ball to destroy the formation a little bit and we didn’t do that often enough in the first half.”
Predicted Liverpool XI vs Villarreal:
- Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mané (4-3-3).
Villarreal team news vs Liverpool:
- Outs: Alberto Moreno
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Predicted Villarreal XI vs Liverpool:
- Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupiñán; Parejo, Capoue, Coquelin; Lo Celso, Alcácer, Danjuma (4-3-3).