Liverpool travel to Villarreal for their Champions League semi-final second-leg tie tonight, looking to get the job done.
The quadruple-chasing Reds travel to eastern Spain holding a commanding 2-0 lead in their last-four tie after a Pervis Estupinan own goal and Sadio Mane’s second-half effort in a one-sided first leg at Anfield last week.
Liverpool are in second place in the Premier League standings and have been impressive since the turn of the year. The Merseyside giants edged Newcastle United to an important 1-0 victory in their previous game and will need to take it up a notch this week.
Villarreal, on the other hand, are in seventh place in the league table at the moment and have been fairly inconsistent this season. The home side suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against Deportivo Alaves over the weekend and will need to bounce back in this fixture.
A cross from Jordan Henderson cannoned off the boot of Pervis Estupinan into the back of the net past the shaky Geronimo Rulli, and Liverpool doubled their lead not long after as Sadio Mane poked home to hand the Merseyside giants a healthy first-leg advantage.
The Champions League hangover appeared to be in full effect for Villarreal as they went down 2-1 to Alaves in Saturday’s La Liga battle – albeit with a much-changed XI – and they are now welcoming Liverpool to a ground where Juventus and Bayern Munich both failed to triumph.
Only one side has ever overturned a two-goal deficit in a Champions League semi-final, with Villarreal seeking to come back against the comeback kings in Liverpool following their extraordinary 2018-19 turnaround against Barcelona, but a 12-game unbeaten run on home soil does stand them in good stead.
Not since November have Villarreal slumped to a defeat in front of their own supporters, but Emery’s side failed to register a single shot on target in the first leg, and not many bets will be placed on the La Liga side booking their tickets to the showpiece event now.
Villarreal’s treatment room has started to fill up again at the worst time possible, with ex-Liverpool man Alberto Moreno and Yeremi Pino still absent, while Arnaut Danjuma was ruled out of the Alaves defeat at the last minute due to discomfort and is uncertain.
Curtis Jones and Kostas Tsimikas both returned from illness to make the bench for the win over Newcastle, while cult hero Divock Origi is also fit again after picking up a bug, and Klopp was not afraid to make a multitude of changes at St James’ Park.
Villarreal’s possible starting lineup:
Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan; Capoue, Coquelin, Parejo; Lo Celso; Chukwueze, Dia
Liverpool’s possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz