Liverpool v Villarreal – Anfield at 20:05 live on BT Sport Europe
Liverpool have a tough task ahead of them this evening after losing their Europa League semi final 1st leg 1-0 to Villarreal at the Madrigal last week. They have gone from favourites to lift the trophy to now being underdogs to qualify, but don’t write off there being another historical European night an Anfield this evening.
The Red’s put in a defensively solid performance last week, keeping the Yellow Submarine out for 90 minutes before Adrian Lopez took advantage of a momentary lapse in the Liverpool defence. They dealt with in-form striker Cedric Bakambu superbly and will need to be at their best again tonight as they really can’t afford to concede an away goal.
Strangely, it was their offence that let them down last week, and even more of a surprise was the omission of Daniel Sturridge, leaving Robert Firmino the target man which didn’t pay off for the Reds. I can’t see Jurgen Klopp opting for the same strategy and selection as the first leg, although there is talk of Sturridge once again starting on the bench, a mistake in my humble opinion.
Liverpool are coming into this match on the back of a 1-3 defeat to Swansea which has left them in 8th place in the Premier League. With 55 points and three games to play, they are in a real battle for to qualify for European football via their league placing for next season.
Domestically their home form is mixed, winning 6, drawing 7 and losing 2 of their last 15 matches. However, in Europe it reads an impressive W7 D3 L0 from their last 10 fixtures at Anfield.
Villarreal are coming into this match on a high, after defeating Valencia at the weekend 2-0, they have all but assured themselves a place at European football’s top table next season.
They also bring a record, in this years UEL, of leading in the first leg of all 3 of their knockout rounds to go on to qualify. Marcelino’s men defeated Napoli at home 1-0 in the last 32 before drawing 1-1 in Naples, then defeated Leverkusen 2-0 at the Madrigal in the last 16 1st leg before a goalless draw in Germany.
In the quarter finals the beat Sparta 2-1 at home before thumping them in Prague 4-2 to go make the semi finals.
They have won 4, drawn 3 and lost 3 of their last 10 road matches in Europe. Avoid defeat tonight and they will be in the final.
The Yellow Submarine are a defensively strong, well organised team and will settle for a goalless draw this evening. I don’t think they will keep Liverpool out again though.
Although I recommended Villarreal -0.25 on the Asian Handicap betting market last week, which returned a nice profit, I was surprised how effective Liverpool were, creating plenty of chances on the counter attack. They were just missing a proper front man and clinical finisher.
I make the Reds good value to qualify this evening at 2.36 and with 59% of teams that lost the first leg of a Europa League knockout match on the road, progressing to the next round, the stats back that up as well.
A 1-0 win will take this one to Extra Time, but Liverpool have the capability to win this one by two, making the hosts -0.75 at 1.97 a choice bet for me.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Liverpool -0.75 at 1.97
Prices correct at time of writing.
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