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Villarreal vs Liverpool: Champions League semi-final preview

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.

However, manager Jurgen Klopp is not taking anything for granted on the road to Paris, insisting it is a difficult scoreline as Unai Emery pledged to make his side “suffer” in Tuesday’s return clash.

Liverpool followed up that dominant win over Villarreal in which they held 73 per cent of the overall possession and allowed only one shot (which was off-target) by triumphing at Newcastle on Saturday, with Naby Keita’s fourth goal of the season in the early Premier League kick-off ensuring they piled the pressure on title rivals Manchester City, who responded with a routine 3-0 victory at Leeds later in the day to regain top spot with four games to go.

Much-changed Villarreal, meanwhile, slumped to a disappointing 2-1 defeat at relegation-threatened Alaves at the weekend, leaving them seventh in LaLiga, four points adrift of the top six and nine behind Atletico Madrid in fourth.

Their hopes of playing in Europe at all next season could well now rest on pulling off an incredible comeback against six-time champions Liverpool and winning the whole competition, with either Real Madrid or Manchester City awaiting the winners of this tie in the final at the Stade de France on May 28.

Date, kick-off time and venue

Liverpool vs Villarreal is scheduled for an 8pm BST kick-off on Tuesday May 3, 2022.

The match will take place at the Estadio de la Ceramica – better known as El Madrigal – in Villarreal, Spain.

Where to watch Villarreal vs Liverpool

TV channel: In the UK, the semi-final second leg will be televised live on BT Sport 2 and BT Sport Ultimate, with coverage beginning at 7pm.

Live stream: Subscribers will also be able to watch the match online via the BT Sport website or app.

Live blog: You can also follow all the action on the night via Standard Sport’s dedicated match blog.

Villarreal vs Liverpool team news

Liverpool will remain without Roberto Firmino on Tuesday, though the Brazilian forward is now back running after nursing a foot issue and is set to travel to Spain with his team-mates.

Divock Origi will be assessed after missing the win over Newcastle through non-Covid illness, though Curtis Jones and Kostas Tsimikas are available again.

Klopp made five changes in total at St James’ Park, with Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, Thiago Alcantara, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ibrahima Konate all moving to the bench.

That quintet should return to the starting lineup against Villarreal, though it’s a difficult juggling act with Tottenham visiting Anfield on Saturday evening and the FA Cup Final against Chelsea now less than two weeks away.

Klopp is not expecting any players to miss out with a stomach bug that has been in camp of late.

Villarreal boss Emery made eight changes of his own against Alaves, with only Samuel Chukwueze, Dani Parejo and Pau Torres retaining their starting berths from Anfield.

Former Liverpool full-back Alberto Moreno remains sidelined with a long-term knee injury, while the likes of Gerard Moreno and Yeremi Pino also missed the first leg.

Predicted Villarreal XI: Rulli, Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan, Parejo, Capoue, Coquelin, Danjuma, Lo Celso, Chukwueze

Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Konate, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Mane, Salah, Diaz

Villarreal vs Liverpool prediction

Villarreal’s gameplan totally failed at Anfield, with no shots on target, barely any possession and next to no opportunities to hit on the break.

Untroubled Liverpool were entirely comfortable and should unquestionably have won by more as they serenely controlled and dominated proceedings.

The wily Emery will have to make big tactical changes for the second leg as they need to put Liverpool under far more pressure from the outset.

However, their chances of breaching a mean defence that have now kept four successive clean sheets across all competitions appear slim.

Villarreal need to push on and take the initiative in front of their own fans, which will inevitably leave plenty of space in behind for the likes of Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz to exploit.

Liverpool to win, 2-0.

Head to head (h2h) history and results

Villarreal’s only win over Liverpool to date came on home soil back in the first leg of the Europa League semi-finals in 2016, with an injury-time effort from Adrian Lopez.

However, the Reds hit back with goals from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana at Anfield, winning 3-0 to book their place in the Basel showpiece, which they lost to Emery’s Sevilla.

Villarreal wins: 1

Liverpool wins: 2

Draws: 0

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