Match Preview - Liverpool vs Villarreal - Key Battle, Team News, Prediction

Match Preview - Liverpool vs Villarreal - Key Battle, Team News, Prediction

Liverpool will face Villarreal in the Champions League semi-finals. The first leg will take place at Anfield on Wednesday night.

The Reds defeated Benfica 6-4 on aggregate in the quarter-finals. However, it was Villarreal that took the headlines in the previous round.

The Spanish side defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate to progress to the semi-finals. The Bundesliga side were tipped by many to at least reach the final, so it was a huge result for Villarreal.

Below is a preview of the upcoming fixture between Liverpool and the La Liga side.

Key Battle

Villarreal were very good defensively against Bayern Munich. To only concede one goal against the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman is some effort.

Therefore, Liverpool will have to move the ball sharply against Villarreal if they are to break them down.

To be fair, the Reds had good practice against Everton at Anfield last weekend. The Toffees defended very well, but Jurgen Klopp's side still managed to secure a 2-0 victory.

Team News

Most of Klopp's key players are fit for the first leg against Villarreal. Roberto Firmino is the only doubt, as he did miss the Merseyside derby at Anfield last weekend due to a foot injury.

Liverpool have been quite lucky with injuries this season. In saying that, the Reds were due a bit of luck on the injury front.

Liverpool were missing Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Thiago Alcantara for large parts of last season due to fitness issues.

In team news for Villarreal, Gerard Moreno is a doubt for the first leg as a result of a hamstring injury. The centre-forward has scored 13 goals in 26 appearances for the Spanish side this season, so he will be missed by Emery if he is unfit to play.

Francis Coquelin on the other hand has recently returned to training. The midfielder had been out of action due to an achilles issue.

Previous Meeting

Liverpool came up against Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals back in 2016. The La Liga side won the first leg 1-0 at home.

However, the Reds secured a 3-0 victory in the second leg at Anfield. Bruno Soriano (OG), Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana were Liverpool's goalscorers on the night.

Klopp's side ultimately progressed to the final after defeating Villarreal 3-1 on aggregate. The German was absolutely thrilled post-match.

As quoted by the BBC, Klopp told BT Sport the following: "Wonderful night, brilliant game from my side. What a performance. The first-half an hour was a big emotion. It was great. The last 15 minutes of the first-half we lost patience. The second-half plan was to keep going with the emotional football but using the brain a bit more and in the end, brilliant.

"Everyone spoke a lot about this team before I came here. It was all about quality and not good transfers. I came here because I thought they had a nice squad and now we are in the final."

Sevilla ended up defeating Liverpool 3-1 on the big stage.

Prediction

Any Champions League semi-final tie is never easy to win. However, Liverpool really should be claiming a victory in this particular fixture.

The reality is, Villarreal do sit in seventh-place on the La Liga table. The aforementioned placing highlights that they are far from a top side.

Liverpool on the other hand have proven that they are one of the best teams in the world for a number of years now. Klopp's squad should show their quality across two legs.

But, as Jordan Henderson pointed out, Villarreal are capable of causing an upset.

As quoted by Anfield Watch on Twitter, the Englishman told the club's official website the following: "They are a very good team. Beating Juventus and Bayern shows the quality they have.

"They have a very experienced manager (Unai Emery), so it will be another really tough test, as any Champions League semi-final would be."

Liverpool 2 Villarreal 0 (first leg)

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