Villarreal should be without three of their top five goalscorers when they take on Liverpool tonight, with Unai Emery revealing a double injury blow.
The Spanish side are visitors for the first leg of the Champions League semi-final, and are considered rank outsiders despite already knocking out both Juventus and Bayern Munich.
Jurgen Klopp has insisted Liverpool will not take Villarreal lightly, though, with the manager saying before the game: “Maybe Juve or Bayern underestimated them, but that will never happen to us.”
Emery, meanwhile, is also without a number of players, with the 50-year-old providing an update on two of his regular starters in his pre-match press conference.
Yeremi Pino, the 19-year-old winger who has featured in more games than any other Villarreal player this season, is out, while for Gerard Moreno, second-top goalscorer with 13, it will come “too soon” to be at 100 percent.
The suggestion is that Moreno could make the substitutes’ bench, though his namesake, ex-Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno, is out with an ACL injury.
Remarkably the Reds’ former No. 18 is Villarreal’s joint-fifth leading scorer this season, meaning Emery could start tonight’s leg without three of his five main sources of goals.
Spanish publication Marca expect Arnaut Danjuma to lead the line supported by Tottenham loanee Giovani Lo Celso, with Alfonso Pedraza, a natural left-back, tipped to start in a four-man midfield over Manu Trigueros.
Danjuma, who has been linked with Liverpool in recent months, will undoubtedly be the dangerman, though winger Samuel Chukwueze and midfielder Dani Parejo are also key threats.
Emery’s side will include a number of familiar faces along with Danjuma and Lo Celso, with Etienne Capoue, Francis Coquelin and Juan Foyth all Premier League alumni.
Predicted Villarreal XI: Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan; Coquelin, Capoue, Parejo, Pedraza; Lo Celso; Danjuma