It’s been a long time since Anfield played host to the sorts of famous European nights the club once became known for. There have been European nights, and games with atmosphere—especially during 2013-14’s title push—but nothing of the sort that once gained Liverpool a reputation.
It’s been a long time since Anfield has been as loud as it was against Dortmund in the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final three weeks ago, a game and atmosphere that harked back to some of the club’s European runs a decade earlier. Manager Jürgen Klopp is hoping for similar tonight against Villarreal.
"If we can create with our game a similar atmosphere as against Dortmund then it will be much more difficult for Villarreal than they imagine in this moment," said Liverpool’s manager. "It’s not that I always from now on expect wonders from us or the crowd, but we all felt how big the influence was."
Down a goal to a stubborn defensive side that has already secured a place in next season’s Champions League. Down to a Spanish side at a time when Spain is the dominating force in Europe as England was a decade ago and Italy before that. Down to a side that has only conceded three goals three times this season.
It certainly seems a game when Liverpool will need the help of the crowd as they did against Dortmund in the last round, and all signs point to Anfield again being in full voice. Beyond the crowd, though, Klopp says that he has a few tricks up his sleeve; that he learned a few things from the first leg and is feeling confident.
"Obviously before the first game the things we knew were based mainly on analysis," he added. "But now we have seen things in the game itself. That is why the second leg is always different. Before the draw you want the first leg away and second at home because you can fix a few things, change a few things.
"That’s what we’ve tried to do. It’s a new game and it’s a big opportunity. It’s a semi-final and everything is possible. A lot of things are possible and I don’t want to talk too much about what we’ll do because hopefully we can surprise them a little bit."