Home » sport » WED 27 APR 2022CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – SEMI-FINALS – 1ST LEG Liverpool 20:00 Villarreal

WED 27 APR 2022CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – SEMI-FINALS – 1ST LEG Liverpool 20:00 Villarreal

27 April 2022


Jurgen Klopp said it is “special” for Liverpool to be preparing for a Champions League semi-final against Villarreal at Anfield on Wednesday.

It is the third time in five seasons Klopp has led Liverpool to the last four of Europe’s elite competition.

Liverpool are in contention to win the quadruple this season having already lifted the League Cup, while reaching the final of the FA Cup.

“Each game should feel like a final,” said Klopp.

“It is absolutely special to be a part of the semi-final, it’s crazy. It’s a massive game. So many coaches and players work their socks off their whole life and don’t get a chance to be close to a semi-final.

“We are there so we have to cherish it and enjoy it as well.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said what the team have achieved under Klopp so far is “very special” but there is “still a long way to go” as they bid to win the quadruple.

“I know how quickly football can change. People talk about the things we can win but we know [if we have] a couple of bad games it can all be over,” he said.

“It’s about keeping focus on the next game, the next challenge – whatever the competition – and see where we are at the end of the season.”

Liverpool could face Manchester City – who they trail by a point in the Premier League title race – in the final should both teams progress from their respective semi-finals.

But Klopp said Liverpool will not underestimate Spain’s Villarreal, who knocked out Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals and Juventus in the last 16.

“We face a very difficult opponent. They are made for the competition, the way they set-up is really good,” the German added.

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“There might have been a little advantage in their last two games where Juventus or maybe Bayern Munich might have underestimated them – but that will never happen to us, especially after these four games, there’s no chance anymore.

“They are a really good football team who obviously want to be a part of the final but it’s the same importance for us.”

‘The beginning of something special’
Klopp lost to Villarreal manager Unai Emery, who was in charge of Sevilla at the time, in the 2015-16 Europa League final during his first season at Liverpool.

But Liverpool reached the first of back-to-back Champions League finals two years later and won the competition in 2019.

Klopp said the Europa League loss was “tough” to take but was important in Liverpool’s journey to success.

“I haven’t thought about that for a while. It was important. I said that night, I thought we’d come back from that moment stronger and we did,” he said.

“That night was a tough one to take. It was game number 64 of that season, a tough season. We can not really compare football games.”

Henderson was on the bench as Sevilla came from behind to beat Liverpool 3-1 in Basel.

“That night always sticks out for me because after the game, going back to the hotel, all the lads were disappointed and you just wanted to go back to your room and get your head down,” he said.

“The gaffer was a bit different to what you’d expect. He had everyone down in the bar area. I felt he knew that this was the start of something special to come.

“It was very difficult to think that then, having just lost a final, but I always felt he knew what was coming in the next few years. He has proven that was the beginning of something special.”

Liverpool take on Villarreal at Anfield in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Wednesday and we can bring you the details of when and how to watch the match.

Jurgen Klopp’s team will be looking to take a healthy lead to the second leg in Spain on Tuesday.

Fresh from a week in which Liverpool beat their closest competitors, their fiercest rivals, and their city neighbours, Champions League football returns this week – the Reds host Villarreal at Anfield for the first leg of the Semi Final, before travelling to Castellón next Tuesday. Villarreal have been managed by Unai Emery since the summer of 2020 – the Spaniard is something of a European specialist, adding last year’s Europa League victory to a hat-trick of competition wins with Sevilla in 2014, ’15, & ’16. Emery’s Sevilla beat Liverpool in the 2016 final, and he since faced the Reds four times as Arsenal manager – his Gunners held the Reds to a draw each in the Premier League and League Cup, whilst also falling to 5-1 and 3-1 league defeats across 2018-19 and 2019-20.
The sides have met only twice in competitive fixtures in the past, contesting a Europa League Semi Final back in Jurgen Klopp’s first season as Liverpool manager, in 2015-16. An injury time winner courtesy of Adrian saw Marcelino’s Villarreal take a 1-0 lead into the 2nd leg, but the Reds overpowered their opponents at Anfield and secured a 3-0 victory in which goals from Daniel Sturridge & Adam Lallana followed a Bruno Soriano own goal. A number of players have represented both sides – Jose Enrique spent a season with El Submarino Amarillo before moving to the Premier League, Pepe Reina & Jan Kromkamp both joined Liverpool from Villarreal (with Josemi going the other way as part of the deal for the latter). Yet another full-back, Alberto Moreno has spent the last three seasons with Villarreal, following his five years on Merseyside (incidentally, I’ve often thought that the 2017-18 Champions League Final might have played out rather differently had Moreno been our chosen substitute when we were forced to replace Mo Salah!).
Having been first promoted to La Liga in 1998, dropping out twice since for just a single season each, Villarreal are well-established top-flight club who – with all due respect – consistently punch well above their weight. They’ve finished in the top six positions on thirteen occasions, and regularly qualify for the knockout rounds of European competitions. This season represents their fourth Champions League campaign (not including 2016-17, when they lost their qualifying playoff), with Manuel Pellegrini’s Villarreal losing out to Arsenal in both the 2005-06 Semi Final and the 2008-09 Quarter Final. Despite finishing outside of the qualification positions in La Liga last season, Unai Emery’s side beat Manchester United 11-10 on penalties in last season’s Europe League Final in order to secure their place in this season’s Champions League.

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