THURSDAY night is big for Liverpool as they take on Villarreal in the Europa League semi-finals. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes a look at the game for WLB.
Villarreal v Liverpool | Thursday 20:05 | BT Sport Europe
There was a real ‘Name On The Trophy' feel to Liverpool two weeks ago when they implausibly came back from the dead to knock out Borussia Dortmund in the previous Europa League round but here they face a different kind of challenge.
Villarreal lie in the way of Liverpool and a first European final in nine years and the Spanish side should make things suffocatingly difficult for the Reds.
Marcelino's men lie fourth in La Liga and have a great opportunity to qualify for the Champions League directly from their league rather than this competition. Their shtick has been simple. Keep it tight at the back and nick a winner.
Villarreal have conceded just 31 goals in La Liga this season. One fewer than Real Madrid, the Spanish side have been involved in 14 La Liga games which paid out in Under 1.5 Goals.
While the Yellow Submarines keep it tight they also struggle to score themselves. Their weak tally of 42 league goals puts them on a par with mid-table sides and beneath the likes of Rayo Vallecano (16th) and Deportivo (14th). Effective but hardly exciting.
It's been a rampaging few weeks for Liverpool. One defeat in 18 matches tells you all you need to know and the spirit of that Dortmund win had echoes of their successful 2004/05 Champions League campaign.
Jurgen Klopp's side have smashed 16 goals into the back of the net in their last five matches and look ravenous at this precise moment as people make a note of their price for the 2016/17 Premier League title.
Contrastingly though they've been a lot more conservative in the Europa League with incredibly 10 of their 12 matches going Under 2.5 Goals this season. The loss of Divock Origi also poses problems for Klopp as he looks to replace that zest.
This looks a contrast in styles but I'm inclined to believe we'll see a game more in the Villarreal vein on Thursday as Liverpool look to play it cool in Spain.
Villarreal v Liverpool – No Goalscorer (15/2 Skybet)
Villarreal v Liverpool – 1-1 Draw (23/4 888 Sport)
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