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Villarreal v Liverpool - Champions League: Big Game Preview

02 May 2022 08:40:07 EST
Jordan Henderson will hope to lead Liverpool to another major final

Liverpool's quadruple bid remains on track and they should overcome another hurdle when they visit Villarreal for their Champions League semi-final second leg on Tuesday.

Already leading 2-0 from the first game at Anfield last week, the Reds head to Spain in fine form and on the back of a 1-0 win over Newcastle United - with Liverpool 1.03 to reach the Champions League final and 1.53 to win the competition.

Fresh after Tyneside success

They should also rock up at El Madrigal feeling fresh as Jurgen Klopp opted to rest several of his star men at St James' Park and still came away with a victory.

Mo Salah, Fabinho, Thiago and Trent Alexander-Arnold all started on the bench at the weekend, so all four should be back in the starting line-up when the visitors aims to complete the job against the Yellow Submarine.

The Reds are seeking to reach a third Champions League final in five years under Klopp and will be expecting to ease through, with Villarreal 15.00 to reach the final.

First leg was one-sided

The 2-0 first-leg success was perhaps more comfortable than the scoreline suggests and only wasted chances prevented rendering this second leg something of a formality.

In truth Liverpool should be running out against Unai Emery's men with a bigger advantage under their belts but, as it is, the hosts will feel they still have a glimmer of a hope, with the first goal on the night absolutely crucial.

Those wanting to make a case for the Yellow Submarine to overturn the deficit will point to the fact Villarreal beat Bayern Munich 1-0 at home in the last eight and also held Juventus 1-1 at home in the previous round.

There's also history to cling to as Villarreal did defeat the Reds 1-0 in this stadium back in 2016 in the Europa League semi-final first leg.

However, Liverpool have won their last five in all competitions, four to nil, so it is a huge task for a La Liga side who are down in seventh in their domestic table and one that was beaten 2-1 by second-bottom Alaves at the weekend.

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Hosts will have to go on the attack

Like Liverpool, Villarreal made plenty of changes for that league clash to try and get themselves ready for this game and Emery's men will simply have to attack more at home to try and trouble the Reds.

Emery has outwitted Klopp before, most famously when in charge of Sevilla in the Europa League final after the Reds had, ironically, swept past Villarreal in the second leg of the semi-final six years ago when winning 3-0 at Anfield.

Sevilla and Emery won 3-1 in the final back then to deny Klopp a major trophy in his first season in charge, but that Liverpool team was much different to the class of 2022.

Reds excel on European roads

Liverpool have won all their away assignments in the Champions League this season - scoring at least two goals in every game in the process - and that stat cannot be dismissed as trivial considering their opponents were Inter Milan, Ajax, Porto, Atletico Madrid and Benfica.

An away win in 90 minutes on the night then appeals at 1.80, while backing both teams to score could offer value at 1.66, especially when you consider Villarreal have only failed to find the back of the net in one of their last seven matches in all competitions, even if that was at Anfield last week.

Diaz sparkling since January arrival

Looking at the goalscorer markets, Salah is an obvious any time candidate at 2.05, but the Egyptian only has two in his last 10 club appearances in all competitions.

Therefore, January signing Luis Diaz, who has looked very sharp whenever called upon and has hit four goals already for the Reds, is the more astute anytime scorer selection on the night at 3.10.

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