Liverpool-Villarreal: Deciphering the phenomenon

27 Th4 2022 | 13:04

brotherVillarreal have made great progress in the Champions League this season, but in today’s Champions League semi-final first leg away to Liverpool on April 27, it is difficult for them to survive.

Villarreal Becoming a phenomenon in the Champions League, in turn beating two higher-rated rivals – Juventus and Bayern. Coach Unai Emery’s side had previously lost two of their group matches, both to Manchester United. In La Liga, Villarreal are seventh – the same place they were at the end of last season.

Liverpool have the longest unbeaten run in Europe's top leagues with 12 games.photo: sky

Liverpool have the longest unbeaten run in Europe’s top leagues with 12 games. picture: Sky

Coach Emery’s pragmatic approach was key to helping Villarreal reach the Champions League semi-finals. In the 1/8 round against Juventus and the 1/4 final against Bayern, the Spanish representatives played very steadily at home, finishing the opponent with sharp counterattacks.They will continue to play the post like this, when they are the guests Liverpool today.

Keeping clean sheets at Anfield is a problem Villarreal must face. They can take a look at Everton’s first 45 minutes in the Premier League last week for reference. Frank Lampard’s side had less than 20 per cent possession in the first half at Anfield, making just 32 passes in the first half but still hitting three goals. That’s what Villarreal needs to do against the Premier League’s top scorer.

Stopping Liverpool at this time is something very few teams can do. The fluidity and performance of the players helped Liverpool to deploy a variety of attacking solutions.Coach ahead of Everton’s fatal kick Jurgen Klopp Put the reserve striker on the field, switch to the high ball, and score two goals from the header. Transformation was the strongest point of Liverpool’s attack, helping them to 85 goals in the Premier League and 25 in the Champions League – the best figures in both games.

Anfield is an impregnable fortress for Liverpool, with a 12-game winning streak in the Premier League, with nearly five clean sheets. In that streak, Liverpool scored 35 goals and conceded two. Klopp’s teachers and students lost to Inter Milan 0-1 at Anfield and drew 3-3 with Benfica. But the two results came after they took a big advantage in the first leg in a two-goal victory.

Villarreal have conceded just two goals in the Champions League knockout rounds so far.Photo: Maca

Villarreal have conceded just two goals in the Champions League knockout rounds so far. picture: Maca

Villarreal must counterattack away. The effectiveness of this strategy will be reflected in the number of goals conceded by manager Unai Emery. Apart from the defensive focus, Villarreal had to wait for Liverpool’s attacking goals – which happened in the Inter game. It was Liverpool’s only defeat since the start of 2022.

In addition to performance and personnel, Liverpool also outperformed Villarreal in terms of experience. They have won the Champions League and advanced regularly since Klopp took over in 2016. Villarreal has only reached the semi-final for the second time, while Emery himself has reached the round for the first time. The 50-year-old coach is considered a four-time champion of the Europa League. But that experience probably won’t help much in the Champions League, where opponents like Liverpool are superior in class and grit.

Villarreal did not lose in the Champions League knockout rounds. They won 3-0 at Juventus and drew 1-1 at Bayern. Compared with the two opponents mentioned above, Liverpool has a better style of play and can break the defensive structure created by manager Unai Emery. However, if they don’t concede more than a goal, Villarreal will keep their chances of the second leg at home a week later.