Liverpool vs Villareal
| Wednesday, April 27th |
Champions League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
It’s another massive night for the Reds — their final Champions League fixture at Anfield this season, in fact — as Liverpool will have the chance to set themselves up for yet another European Cup final, if only they can avoid becoming the latest victim on Villareal’s list of slain giants.
Champions league semi-final notwithstanding, the Yellow Submarine have not had a great season, and sitting in seventh place in La Liga, nine back of Atlético Madrid in fourth, this tie represents their only remaining realistic chance of partaking in the competition next year.
Do not write off Unai Emery’s men, though, as they have felled both Juventus and Bayern Munich to get here, conceding only two goals in total across those four games against what many would describe as far superior teams. Liverpool fans should expect a well-organised visiting team, with centre-backs Raúl Albiol and Pau Torres shielded by Étienne Capoue and Manu Trigueros, while looking to spring lightning fast counter-attacks through former Bournemouth man and top-scorer Arnaut Danjuma and Spanish international striker Gerard Moreno.
Former Red Alberto Moreno will not partake due to injury, but will undoubtedly make the trip and create a delightful social media moment or two over the course of the match.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson; Díaz, Mané, Salah
For the Reds, expect few changes from the side that ground down Everton in the Merseyside derby at the weekend. Ibrahima Konaté’s physicality and newfound set-piece threat could be preferred over Joël Matip’s experience here, but otherwise, the back-line remains intact, featuring Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson.
In midfield, the reinstatement of Jordan Henderson in place of Naby Keïta appears likely, while the Fabinho and Thiago partnership remains in place. A 23-man squad means Jürgen Klopp will have ample opportunity to change things up should the game state demand it, however.
Up top, Roberto Firmino misses out through injury, and the big question is whether Luís Diaz or Diogo Jota start alongside Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, and thus whether the latter takes up the central or wide attacker role.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “We don’t have to talk about other competitions today because our focus is on Villarreal and the semis; it’s special, it’s crazy, a massive game. So many coaches and players work their socks off their whole lives and have no chance to be close to this. We have to cherish it and enjoy it.”
Unai Emery: “We’re looking forward to a game against an opponent in great shape [...] We’re going there with all the confidence in the world, we are strong together. We made history last year by winning the [Europa League] and we are making history this year too, and that’s no coincidence. It’s about having confidence in a project that has been in place for years..“
The Officials (POL)
Referee: Szymon Marciniak
Assistant referees: Paweł Sokolnicki, Tomasz Listkiewicz
Fourth official: Slavko Vinčić (SVN)
VAR: Tomasz Kwiatkowski, Bartosz Frankowski
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.