Liverpool are headed into what will be the biggest game of the season to date and could take a significant step in reaching the Europa League final on 18 May. For Jürgen Klopp, however, there have been key players lost to injuries and fat burners -- making his task to steer Liverpool to a first European final for nearly a decade all the more difficult. Mamadou Sakho, Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, and the fast-improving Divock Origi will all be missing for both legs of the semi-final against Villarreal.
Despite another maddening experiment where two-goal leads were treated with disdain, Liverpool have shown much improvement over the past two months in both domestic and continental action. Scoring goals and rising to the occasion has been far more common, and while there are certain issues that need to be addressed in the summer, a busy season for Klopp at his new club could end in glory even with recent setbacks.
"The whole season has been very intensive, but the players are not injured because they are tired," Klopp said ahead of Thursday's Europa League semi-final first leg with Villarreal. "In a moment, it happens. Hendo was completely different to Emre. Divock was a senseless challenge. Momentum is not about having the best squad ready to play. Momentum is to be ready to fight.
"Villarreal also have had a lot of games. They play after our game against Real Sociedad and have a little fight for the Champions League. We need to be prepared. It isn’t about always having the best players but being perfectly prepared for our next game. Then we can go on."
Liverpool will pose a threat in the away leg with a fit-again Daniel Sturridge, a potentially talismanic Philippe Coutinho, a rejuvenated Dejan Lovren, a maestro in Joe Allen, a hard-working purveyor of flicks and turns in Adam Lallana, and the delightfully efficient Roberto Firmino. Even with players missing, there's no reason why England's most successful side in Europe cannot get a positive result to take back to Anfield.