Liverpool have their blueprint for their massive game vs Villarreal tonight. The Reds know the Anfield clash can change everything.
It’s Liverpool vs Villarreal tonight in their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg. A gigantic game for the Reds, then, as they continue their Quadruple hunt.
Unfortunately, it’s not a simple one to prepare for, though. You’d usually go all-out in such a fixture, treating a Champions League semi-final as the be-all and end-all. Liverpool can’t quite do that, however.
They’ve got another huge game on Saturday at 12:30pm at Newcastle United. It comes under 72 hours after the Villarreal clash and means there will be some incredibly tired legs for it. They then face Villarreal again the following Tuesday – how does Jurgen Klopp manage his players here?
It’ll be tough, certainly. Klopp has a deep squad but certain players will surely play all three games, having also played the previous three. Realistically, Liverpool’s best shot at getting through this period is by making that second leg against Villarreal as routine as possible. That means a big home win.
Doing so would allow Klopp a ‘breather’ game, one where he could relax and rotate with a decent headstart at El Madrigal. And with that in mind, a 2018 fixture sets the blueprint.
Liverpool vs Villarreal
There are parallels here between Liverpool vs Villarreal and Liverpool vs AS Roma in 2018. Much like this time around, the Reds’ semi-final opponents are a surprise, having overcome a much larger club in the quarters. For Villarreal, that was Bayern Munich. For Roma, that was Barcelona.
And again, Liverpool play the first leg at Anfield as massive favourites. They’ll wish to push through any complacency, then, and dominate from the get-go. As we mentioned, that’s the best way to make the coming seven days far easier.
Liverpool did just that against Roma in 2018. They raced into a 2-0 lead before half-time, had a third after 56, a fourth after 61 and made it 5-0 on 69 minutes. Roma couldn’t breathe and the Reds overwhelmed them with intensity.
Now, that was Liverpool pre-Fabinho and Alisson (the Brazilian was in the opposite goal, in fact). They weren’t anywhere near as solid defensively and gave away two cheap goals before the end as they tried to slow the pace.
Klopp, though, labelled it a ‘fanastic result’ and it was enough to see Liverpool through to the final despite losing in Rome. A similar display tonight is exactly what the team needs.
Smash Villarreal from the off, overwhelm them and race into a strong lead. Then back this group to see the game out without the same issues as 2018. Doing so would allow for a breather within the 90 minutes tonight, as well as against Villarreal next week.
So don’t play with caution, don’t look to bide any time – take risks from the off and go for the throat. Liverpool set their blueprint in 2018 and it’s time to follow it to perfection this time.