Match Preview - Villarreal vs Liverpool - Team news, key battles, match prediction

Match Preview - Villarreal vs Liverpool - Team news, key battles, match prediction

Villarreal will welcome Liverpool to the Estadio de la Cerámica tonight for the second leg of the Champions League semi-final.

After the first leg of this semi-final tie, Villarreal will be hoping to overturn the 2-0 victory that Liverpool picked up at Anfield last week.

Even though this is set to be a mammoth task for Unai Emery and his side, the Spanish club seem confident that they can cause Liverpool problems tonight.

Despite having an amazing season in the Champions League, Villarreal's league form hasn't been on par, with them currently sitting in 7th place in La Liga.

In the Yellow Submarine's most recent league match, Emery's side lost 2-1 to relegation-threatened Alavez, which was a massive blow to their push to finish in the European places this season.

Meanwhile, Liverpool visited St James's Park at the weekend, coming away with an important three points to keep them in touching distance of Manchester City.

With this fixture set to be the biggest game of the season for both sides, we have previewed the monumental match down below.

Team News

Villarreal only have one long-term injury to their first-team squad heading into this game, someone who Liverpool fans know well, Alberto Moreno.

The Spaniard ruptured his cruciate ligament in March and he is set to be on the sidelines for Emery's side until September. However, he will be present at tonight's game like he was at Anfield last week.

One key inclusion for Villarreal will be the return of their star striker Gerard Moreno. The Spaniard has had some injury issues this season and this saw him miss out on the first leg of the Champions League semi-final.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, as cited by Anfield Watch's Twitter account, Emery said; "Gerard Moreno will surely be able to play tomorrow."

Despite the return of Moreno, Villarreal could be without their star player Auranut Danjuma, with Emery confirming that the Dutch international had 'some discomfort' which kept him out of the penultimate training session.

Finally, Emery also confirmed that Yéremy Pino could be out of tonight's game against Liverpool.

For Jurgen Klopp's side, they only have one confirmed absentee for the second leg of the Champions League, Roberto Firmino.

Klopp said that despite his injury the Brazilian will travel to Villarreal with the rest of the squad. Apart from Bobby though, Liverpool have 'no other concerns'.

Key Battles

There will be a few key battles that could see this game won or lost for either side tonight.

Thanks to Gerard Moreno's return to Emery's team, the most obvious one would be him vs Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip. The Spaniard is an amazing all-rounder and he can cause massive issues by dropping deep and picking a pass from midfield.

Another important matchup will be Luis Diaz vs Juan Foyth. In the first leg, Diaz was getting at Foyth a lot but due to Villarreal's deep defending it never resulted in much.

However, if Emery's side decide to play on the front foot then the space on the right-hand side will be a massive bonus for the Colombian as he can use his pace to breeze past the former Spurs defender.

Prediction

It's very hard to see how Villarreal get back into this tie. If they defend like they did in the first leg then Liverpool will eventually pick them off.

However, if they open up and attack then Liverpool can just drop back and hit the Spanish side on the counterattack.

Even though Klopp would never admit it, his side currently have one foot in the Champions League final. If Villarreal were to advance to the final today then it would be one of the biggest miracles in Champions League history.

For that reason alone I'm going to predict that Liverpool comfortably advance to the UCL final in Paris after tonight's game.

Villarreal 0-3 Liverpool

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