10 things to know ahead of Villarreal vs. Liverpool

Liverpool are within touching distance of a third Champions League final in five years, taking a 2-0 lead with them to Villarreal in the semi-final second leg.

Villarreal vs. Liverpool

Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg | El Madrigal
Tuesday, May 3, 2022 | 8pm (BST)

Jurgen Klopp‘s men have already taken a step towards Paris ahead of the final on May 28, although there is still work to be done in Spain first.

Here’s all you need to know ahead of the match.


1. Villarreal beaten by Alaves

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 13, 2022: Villarreal supporters during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and SL Benfica at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Villarreal face one of the biggest games in their history against Liverpool – their semi-final second leg at home to Arsenal in 2006 and last season’s Europa League final against Man United are arguably the only matches to rival it.

For that reason, it is understandable why focus may be limited in LaLiga and that showed on Saturday.

Villarreal were beaten 2-1 away to Alaves, as Unai Emery made a total of eight changes in order to keep key players fresh.

The defeat leaves them sitting seventh in the table.


2. Who’s out for the Yellow Submarine?

2GKKACJ Valencia, Spain. 14th Sep, 2021. Arnaut Danjuma of Villarreal seen in action during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Villarreal CF and Atalanta at Estadio de la Ceramica in Villarreal. (Credit Image: © Xisco Navarro/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire)

It looks set to be one in, one out for Villarreal on Tuesday.

Key striker Gerard Moreno is back following a hamstring injury, but top goalscorer Arnaut Danjuma will be a big miss as he is ruled out due to illness.

Elsewhere, ex-Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno is out due to an ACL injury, while winger Yeremi Pino will be absent again.


3. Predicted Villarreal XI

A similar starting XI to the one that lined up in the first leg is to be expected, though the aforementioned injury situation will alter things slightly.

If Moreno does return – he trained on Monday – he may only be deemed fit enough for the substitutes’ bench for such an intense occasion.

Key players such as Raul Albiol and Francis Coquelin will come back into the team, alongside Pau Torres and Dani Parejo, both of whom only played 45 minutes against Alaves.

Possible Villarreal XI: Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan; Capoue, Coquelin, Parejo; Lo Celso; Chukwueze, Dia


4. Almost a clean bill of health

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 28, 2021: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino reacts as he is substituted with an injury during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool are enjoying a fortunate run in the injury department, with Klopp given the luxury of having a near fully fit squad to choose from.

Roberto Firmino is still the only absentee, as the Brazilian continues to struggle with a foot problem that has kept him out since last month.

The Reds have welcomed Divock Origi back into the squad after he missed the weekend trip to Newcastle through illness.


5. Possible Liverpool lineup

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 13, 2022: Liverpool players line-up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg game between Liverpool FC and SL Benfica at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp rested some huge players at Newcastle, with Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Thiago and Mohamed Salah all left out.

The Liverpool quartet will all surely come back into the team on Tuesday, potentially at the expense of Joe Gomez, James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Luis Diaz.

Elsewhere, Ibrahima Konate could be preferred to Joel Matip, while Kostas Tsimikas is an outside bet to start at left-back.

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


6. “They will go for us…”

Speaking to the media on Monday, Klopp was not taking Villarreal lightly in the slightest:

“We have to be ready to play a top, top, top, top game, because they will go for us.

“High press, they will try to play much more football than we allowed them in the first game.

“Because of changing eight players and two [only] playing 45 minutes, I’m pretty sure yesterday they had a normal session.

“So Unai will for sure try to adapt a few things to our style in this short spell. It will be really interesting, definitely.”


7. Reds’ semi-final record

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 7, 2019: Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring the fourth goal with team-mate Xherdan Shaqiri during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This is Liverpool’s sixth Champions League semi-final overall and their record suggests we should be feeling positive.

The Reds’ only defeat in the other five was the 4-3 aggregate loss to Chelsea back in 2008, as Rafa Benitez’s men missed out on a final against United.

Liverpool did twice taste victory over the Blues in the last four in 2005 and 2007, however, as well as seeing off Roma and Barcelona in 2018 and 2019, respectively.


8. Did you know?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, March 4, 2022: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (R) and goalkeeper Alisson Becker after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool may be famed for their flowing attacking football under Klopp, but they have also been remarkable defensively since the likes of Alisson and Virgil van Dijk arrived.

That is summed up by one stunning statistic that emerged after the win over Newcastle.

The Reds’ shutout at St James’ Park means they have now kept 31 clean sheets in their 56 matches this season – more than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues.

Imagine playing this high line, with such attacking full-backs, and still having that record in defence!


9. Makkelie confirmed as referee

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 3, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané (L) is shown a yellow card by referee Danny Makkelie during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 4 game between Liverpool FC and Club Atlético de Madrid at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Renowned referee Danny Makkelie will take charge of the game, with the Dutchman seen as one of the world’s leading officials.

He last refereed a Liverpool game back in December, when he oversaw the Reds’ 2-1 win away to AC Milan, but he also took charge of the 2-0 victory at home to Atletico Madrid in the group stage.

This is Makkelie’s sixth Liverpool game in total – the only defeat in that time was the 3-2 loss to Atletico at Anfield in March 2020.


10. Follow our live blog

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists their Champions League semi-final is far from over despite their 2-0 first-leg lead over Villarreal (Peter Byrne/PA)

Villarreal vs. Liverpool is live on BT Sport 2, with coverage getting underway at 7pm and kickoff taking place at 8pm (BST).

If you are unable to see the game, Dan Clubbe will be on hand to keep you company on This Is Anfield’s live blog from 7.15pm.

Come on you Reds!