Thursday 5th May. 8:05PM. BT Sport Europe
Having enjoyed the most magical of nights against Dortmund in the quarter-finals, the stage is set at Anfield for yet more drama as Liverpool look to book their place in the Europa League final.
The Merseysiders will need to overturn a 1-0 deficit to reach the final in Basel, and visiting Villarreal certainly won’t make it easy. However, Liverpool is a club that lives for big European nights. It should be an electric atmosphere; let’s hope it turns out to be a fantastic night for the Reds.
Come on Liverpool.
More Magic At Anfield?
Liverpool’s turnaround against Dortmund was nothing short of spectacular, and Jurgen Klopp will be hoping for more of the same as he bids to lead Liverpool to a second final of the season. Aside from the glory of lifting silverware, winning the Europa League would provide a pass to next year’s Champions League too.
It won’t be easy for the Red as Villarreal are a formidable opponent. However, Klopp’s men are unbeaten at Anfield since mid-January and can be extremely optimistic here. The big question is whether he’ll choose Daniel Sturridge up top. The England man hasn’t been an automatic choice under his new boss, but he has continued to score goals since returning from injury while a lack of alternatives means he should start.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are still adapting to life without Mamadou Sakho following his ban. The hosts will need to tighten things up at the back if they want to progress, particularly due to the away goals rule. If they do, though, it could be another European final appearance for the Premier League club.
Anfield will be rocking. But the Spanish giants won’t be rolling over.
Yellow Submarine To Sink Liverpool Dreams?
At 0-0, this tie would’ve had a completely different outlook. However, that first leg injury time winner from Adrian Lopez has given Marcelino’s men a lead to protect. And it could yet prove to be vital.
An away goal at Anfield would force Liverpool into needing at least three. With Cedric Bakambu and Roberto Soldado in attack, the Spaniards will certainly pose a threat to the Merseysiders. Whilst they won’t be focusing all of their energies on scoring, opening the night’s action would put them in the strongest position imaginable.
Villarreal are a little unpredictable on the road, though, as is underlined by their recent away form of three wins, three defeats and two draws. They will need to be at their very best to stand a serious chance of progression to the final, but Denis Suarez and co have more than enough quality to seal their place in Switzerland on May 18th.
The Spaniards aren’t relying on this competition for a Champions League spot as they are currently fourth in La Liga. Nonetheless, they will want to lift the trophy. It should be an explosive contest to say the least.
Liverpool v Villarreal Betting
This won’t be easy for Liverpool, and that lack of an away goal could be costly. Nevertheless, Bet365 make them ¾ favourites to at least win this crucial second leg while Villarreal are available at 17/4. The draw can be backed at 11/4.
With home advantage on their side, we do think Liverpool can win this leg. We’re equally hopeful that the Anfield energy will spur them on to win by at least two clear goals to seal their place in the final.
It would be a massive night if they can but, from a betting perspective, covering the potential refund feels like a must.
Sturridge’s progress under Klopp hasn’t been brilliant, but he’s still scored goals on a regular basis when selected. Assuming he does get the nod here, the 26-year-old will never get a better chance to prove his worth.
With William Hill offering refunds on the second goalscorer, we’re backing the England man to fire Liverpool into an early lead. However, it might be worth waiting for the team news first.