The last gasp winner from Adrian Lopez at the El Madrigal a week ago is all that separates Liverpool and Villarreal in the semi-final of the Europa League this season.
For most of the game, the English outfit made sure that their defense was not breached but a lapse of concentration in the dying minutes of the game gave Marcelino’s side a slim advantage going into the second leg. But if Anfield is anything like it was on the day Liverpool beat Dortmund, the Spanish outfit will have a tough task at hand even after starting with an advantage.
However, Liverpool’s recent 3-1 loss against Swansea even without the senior players will have dented the morale of the side who will have to pick up their game if they want to end up in the final of the European competition after more than 4 years.
Here is the preview of this game along with the team news, predictions, expected line-ups and betting odds:
The second-leg of the semi-final of the Europa League between Liverpool and Villarreal will be played on Thursday, the 5th of November at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool. The kickoff is scheduled at 8:05 pm BST (12:35am Friday IST).
The biggest decision for Jurgen Klopp will be revolving around star striker Daniel Sturridge. With Benteke finding the net at the weekend, he may be tempted to throw in the Belgian on Thursday. Henderson, Origi, Ings, and Gomez are still injured while Sakho continues to serve his ban. However, Emre Can has recovered quickly from an ankle injury and is in contention for a place in this game.
Marcelino does not have any new headaches in the injury department. Eric Bailly is a doubt for this game after he picked up a niggle in the first leg while Leo Baptista still remains sidelined. The rest of the squad is fairly fit giving the manager plenty of options.
Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Toure, Moreno; Allen, Milner; Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana; Sturridge.
Asenjo; Mario, Musacchio, Ruiz, Costa; Adrian, Pina, Bruno, Suarez; Soldado, Bakambu
Phillipe Coutinho vs Musacchio:
Liverpool’s top goalscorer in all competitions, Coutinho is in decent form going into this game and will be the biggest threat for the home side on the night. Musacchio will have to be up to the task and afford the Brazilian no space or time on the ball as he can make the visitors pay over the course of 90 minutes.
Bakambu vs Kolo Toure:
Even in the first leg, this battle on one end of the field was fascinating to follow. The pace of Bakambu against the experience of Toure will once again be a good battle to look forward to in the 2nd leg at Anfield. This can potentially decide the outcome of the tie.
Before the first leg a week ago, these two sides had never met in a competitive fixture before, with their only previous clash of any kind resulting in a pre-season goalless draw in 2008.
Liverpool have a mixed record from 33 European games against Spanish opposition, with 13 wins, 10 draws, and 10 defeats.
Sides holding a 1-0 home advantage after the first leg of Europa League knockout ties have progressed 59 percent of the time since the 2009-10 season (16 out of 27).
Liverpool have succeeded in three of their previous five semi-finals in European competitions after losing the first leg away from home.
The Anfield club have won their past seven home second-leg ties, conceding only once in the process.
Villarreal have only failed to score once in their last 32 Europa League matches while Liverpool have left four of their past five encounters with Spanish sides scoreless.
Only Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz (10) has more Europa League goals this season than the nine provided by Villarreal’s Cedric Bakambu.
With just 1 point in the last two league games, Liverpool have lost the chance of Europe qualification through the league position. This leaves the Villarreal game as the biggest one for the Reds this season. With the whole campaign hinging on it, Liverpool will be under pressure but at home, they will be expected to see off the Spanish side who showed rare signs of penetration in the first leg.
Our Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Villarreal