Nobody loves a high-octane European fixture more than the lads and lasses from Liverpool.
After seeing off Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarter-finals, Jurgen Klopp’s side host a resurgent Villarreal team at Anfield tonight in an effort to reach the Europa League final.
The Reds head into the second leg trailing 1-0 after Adrian Lopez’s injury-time winner last week at the Estadio El Madrigal.
Liverpool are looking to reach their first European final in nine years, while it will be the Yellow Submarine’s first if they can make it through.
The overall winners of tonight’s tie will face either Sevilla or Shakhtar Donetsk, who are tied at 2-2 with the Spanish side currently progressing on away goals.
- The defeat in the first leg was the first for Liverpool in this season’s competition
- The Reds are however undefeated in seven European home games, dating back to a 3-0 defeat against Real Madrid in 2014
- Liverpool have recorded five clean sheets in 13 games during their campaign
- Villarreal are undefeated since their opening group game when they lost 2-1 at Rapid Wien
- Marcelino’s men confirmed their qualification for next season’s Champions League with a 2-0 win at Valencia on Sunday
- Forward Cedric Bakambu is the second top goal scorer in the competition with nine goals
A youthful Liverpool side, with an average age of 23-years-old, fell to a 3-1 defeat at Swansea City on Sunday as eight changes from the first leg were made.
Midfielder Emre Can is fit again after an ankle injury while Daniel Sturridge is hoping to get his first start since March 17th.
The Yellow Submarine also made wholesale changes at the weekend, with only Roberto Soldado keeping his place.
Their squad is now at full strength with the return of defender Eric Bailly and forward Leo Baptistao from injuries.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Touré, Lovren, Moreno; Milner, Can; Coutinho, Firmino, Lallana; Benteke.
Villarreal: Sergio Asenjo; Mario, Bailly, Ruiz, Jaume Costa; dos Santos, Pina, Bruno, Suarez; Soldado, Bakambu
How will it pan out?
Liverpool will be boosted by the return of Can but they have so far been unable to cope with the loss of Mamadou Sakho and Divock Origi.
Klopp started without a recognised striker in Spain but it will be hard not to use either Sturridge or Sunday’s goal scorer Christian Benteke from the start due to the pressure of needing to score.
Marcelino’s side, as Liverpool well know, are dangerous on the counter attack and if they are to score, it is unlikely that the Reds will be able to score three times to go through.
Despite this Liverpool will fancy their chances if they get an early goal and they have recorded enough clean sheets in this campaign to believe they can shut-out the opposition and reach the final.