The second semifinal of the UEFA Champions League kicks off Wednesday in Merseyside as Liverpool hosts Villarreal for the opening leg.
The Reds have already won one silverware this season, beating Chelsea on penalties in the League Cup final, and will hope to get into its third Champions League final under manager Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the tournament last year by Real Madrid, a team it has a chance of facing if it goes through against the Unai Emery’s Villarreal.
Villarreal, on the other hand, beat Bayern Munich to enter its third Champions Semifinal ever, its first since 2005-06. Emery has already been immortalised at the club as he guided it to its first European trophy, the Europa League in, last year.
With the competition finally down to the final four, it will be interesting to see whether Unai Emery can carry the ‘yellow submarine’ to its first-ever UCL final or will Klopp avenges his defeat to Emery’s then side Sevilla in the Europa League final in six years ago.
Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp does not have any new roster issues hampering his preparations ahead of the visit of Villarreal for the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg. But Roberto Firmino could remain unavailable to represent Liverpool this midweek.
The Brazilian forward is a major doubt due to a foot injury that forced him to miss the Merseyside derby this past weekend. In Firmino’s continued absence, Sadio Mane will retain his spot as the central striker, forming a dynamic frontline along with Mohamed Salah and Luis Diaz, with interchangeability being the name of the game in the final third.
Thiago Alcantara will be the pivotal player for Liverpool, with the Spanish international having the onus to dictate the tempo and assert the Reds’ control on the proceedings. Thiago will line up alongside Jordan Henderson and Fabinho in the middle of the park, with Klopp likely to overlook Naby Keita.
Villareal: Unai Emery does not have any new injury concerns to deal with ahead of the trip to Anfield for the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg. On Wednesday, the Villarreal manager will be bereft of the services of two first-team players.
Alberto Moreno and Gerard Moreno remain on the sidelines due to their respective hamstring injuries. The duo will likely miss the remainder of the season, meaning Emery will be short of quality options in the final third.
Liverpool: (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz
Villareal: (4-3-1-2): Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan; Parejo, Coquelin, Capoue; Lo Celso; Chukwueze, Danjuma