Villarreal v Liverpool – Estadio El Madrigal at 20:05 live on BT Sport Europe
After Liverpool’s dramatic quarter final 2nd leg win over Borrussia Dortmund, they now travel to Spain, for their semi final first leg against Villarreal at the Estadio El Madrigal.
The Reds’ 4-3 win over Jurgen Klopp’s former club will go down as one of the greatest European nights at Anfield in history. After an excellent performance in the first leg, drawing 1-1 with Dortmund, they trailed BVB 2-0 and 3-1 in the 2nd leg, before going onto win the match, Dejan Loveren netting the winner in front of the Kop in the last minute of the tie.
Such an astonishing turn-around will remind fans of their Champions League win back in 2005 and many will believe they can lift another piece of European silverware this year. After knocking Dortmund out, Liverpool are now 2.85 favourites to lift the trophy and are 1.62 to make the final in Basel.
I think those prices are too short though, especially when you consider Sevilla, 4 times Europa League champions in the last 10 years are one of the other semi finalists. I also think that Villarreal haven been under-estimated in this tie despite being favourites to win the first leg this evening.
The Yellow Submarine have enjoyed a fantastic season, both domestically and in Europe. They currently sit 4th in La Liga, 4 points ahead of 5th with just 3 to play and look good to book a place in next years Champions League. They defeated Sparta Prague 6-3 on aggregate in the quarter finals of the Europa League and have proved to be a very tough team to beat.
Villarreal’s defence is their strength, conceding just 31 goals in their 35 league games this season. At home, only the defensively outstanding Atletico Madrid have conceded fewer and they will no doubt look to stifle an improved Liverpool attack.
The Spanish side also have a couple of real assists going forward, most notably in Cedric Bakambu who has scored 9 goals in the UEL this season. With 71% of shots on target in the competition, he will look to exploit a Liverpool defence which remains their weakness despite recent improvement.
The visitors will come out looking for an all important away goal, whilst trying to contain the Yellow Submarine as much as possible. I’m sure Klopp would take a score draw again and look to finish Villarreal off back at Anfield.
They certainly have a chance to get on the score sheet with the form they are in, currently top scorers in the Premier League in 2016. They have netted 12 times in their last 4 league games and 17 in their last 6 in all competitions.
They will be without Divock Origi who has been excellent in Europe since Klopp took charge, but with Daniel Sturridge fit and in-form, along with Coutinho and Firmino, the German will expect to bring at least one away goal into the second leg.
This will be the first meeting between the two sides, but Villarreal don’t have a good record when facing English teams, failing to win in their last 10 matches, drawing 6, losing 4.
Liverpool have lost 3 of their last 4 matches against Spanish clubs, but Jurgen Klopp is yet to lose a European match since taking over at Liverpool, with 5 wins and 5 draws.
I’m expecting this one to be very close, with a sinlge goal nicking it. VIllarreal have only failed to score once in their last 31 UEL matches, whilst Liverpool have scored in just 3 of their last 6.
With home advantage, a good record in front of goal and an excellent defence, the hosts are the value bet on the Asian Handicap betting market here for me. It’ll be close but Villarral -0.25 at 2.13 is a big price and my recommendation.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Villarreal -0.25 at 2.17
Prices correct at time of writing.
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