Villarreal vs Liverpool predictions: Another final beckons for the Reds

Aidan Perkins
LiveScore
03/05/202216:00
Liverpool have momentum on their side ahead of their Champions Legue semi-final second leg against Villarreal
Liverpool have momentum on their side ahead of their Champions Legue semi-final second leg against Villarreal

Liverpool have one foot in the Champions League final and will expect to comfortably get the job done when they take on Villarreal in Spain on Tuesday.

The Reds were 2-0 winners in the first clash at Anfield last week, which was far more convincing than the scoreline suggests. 

There was a clear gulf in class between the Quadruple-chasers and the team now down in seventh in La Liga. 

Unai Emery will now have to show much greater attacking intent as he bids to stay in the competition but Jurgen Klopp's men should have enough to see themselves through.

Emery's game plan of sitting deep and then trying to hit Liverpool on the break at Anfield simply did not work as the Yellow Submarine managed just one late shot over the course of the one-sided game on Merseyside. 

Admittedly, Klopp's men were frustrated in the first half as it was 0-0 at the break but that was more down to wasteful finishing rather than inspired defending. 

As soon as Jordan Henderson's deflected cross looped in for the opener, there was to be only one winner. 

Sadio Mane quickly added a second and the only annoyance from Klopp on the night would have been that Liverpool should have been out of sight going into the second game. 

Villarreal still have a glimmer of hope at home but a first-half goal from the Premier League giants should kill off the tie and seal the English side's place in the final, their third appearance in the showpiece in the last five years.

Team news 

Mohamed Salah is set to return to the Liverpool team against Villarreal
Mohamed Salah is set to return to the Liverpool team against Villarreal

Klopp opted to rest star men Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago and Fabinho for the 1-0 Premier League win at Newcastle on Saturday so will be fresh enough to start at El Madrigal. 

Saturday's goalscorer Naby Keita will hope to keep his place in midfield, while Roberto Firmino (foot) remains an injury doubt and Divock Origi (illness) could also be unavailable. 

Villarreal warmed up for the second leg with a 2-1 defeat against Alaves domestically at the weekend when Emery also made plenty of changes. 

Etienne Capoue, Juan Foyth, Giovani Lo Celso and Arnaut Danjuma should all come back in to start against Liverpool, as should Francis Coquelin and Raul Albiol. 

But ex-Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno and Yeremi Pino are both still out injured. 

The ongoing absence of key striker Gerard Moreno is a major blow to Emery, although there are reports he could return from his hamstring injury for the second leg, even if he is only fit enough for a place on the bench. 

Match stats and facts 

Liverpool were dominant winners against Villarreal at Anfield last week
Liverpool were dominant winners against Villarreal at Anfield last week

So dominant were Liverpool in the first leg that they won the total shot count 19-1 at Anfield, while the Reds enjoyed 67% of the possession and had 10 corners compared to Villarreal's paltry two. 

Those figures underline just how effective the hosts were— and similarly how ineffective the visitors were — but we should at least see more going forward from the Spaniards in front of their own fans. 

They did stun Bayern Munich and Juventus in the previous rounds at home, beating the German giants 1-0 and drawing with Juve 1-1. 

Doing the same against such an in-form Liverpool side is a different matter, however. 

Klopp's men made it five wins on the bounce in all competitions with that narrow but deserved success at St James' Park — the last four of those all coming with a clean sheet. 

Liverpool have not lost away from home in any game since a 1-0 defeat at Leicester City at the end of December and they have won all five of their Champions League away games this season — scoring at least two goals on each occasion. 

These two teams did meet in the semi-finals of the Europa League in 2016 and Villarreal won the first leg 1-0at home  before Liverpool triumphed 3-0 in the return.

Predictions 

It is very hard to make a case for Villarreal even though they have knocked out stellar opposition already in the shape of Bayern and Juventus. 

The first leg was very one-sided and Emery, who has enjoyed plenty of European success, will have to alter his gameplan significantly if his side are to get any joy on the night. 

The problem for the hosts, though, is if the Yellow Submarine open up and try to attack Liverpool they will leave plenty of holes at the back for the likes of Luis Diaz, Sadio Mane and a rested Salah to exploit. 

Emery's side have only failed to score in one of their last seven matches, however, so it may be wise to suggest the second leg could end up in Liverpool's favour but with both teams on the scoresheet.

A correct score of 2-1 or 3-1 to the visitors would not be a surprising outcome.

Tags

Champions LeagueVillarrealLiverpool

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