Tip Liverpool – Villarreal
Liverpool registered yet another impressive performance, beating Everton 2-0 in the Merseyside Derby, a perfect prep for their home game in the first leg of the Champions League semi finals, against Villarreal. It was the third straight win and the ninth time in 10 matches that they scored two or more goals. They were made to work for this win, with two second half goals and it may well be a precursor for what to expect against the Spaniards – a defensive strategy. In their 10 Champions League matches this season, Liverpool have managed eight wins, a loss and a draw but there have been jitters in their recent games in this competition. The Reds have one clean sheet in the last five Champions League games, and have failed to score once while in the last game, they conceded three goals. Villarreal will be particularly keen on exploiting the fact that Liverpool are winless in their last two home matches in this competition.
Villarreal have gone on a more stable run lately and will carry their giant killing instincts to Anfield for this game. They are coming from a 2-0 win over Valencia and they will have the benefit of an extended rest, having last played on 19th, four days before Liverpool played Everton. This extra rest, the Spaniards will hope counts coming into this game. They haven’t lost in the last five matches and scored in each of them, with Arnaut Groeneveld a key man in their last five games, having scored three times. Villarreal eliminated Bayern Munich and Juventus in the last two rounds. They go into this game as the weakest of all the semifinalists but it is the magnitude of their performance in the last two rounds that will drive them here. Villarreal have already faced English opposition this season, and lost in two matches against Manchester United. Facing Liverpool, it is their hosts forward line that Villarreal will want to keep at bay, given the Spaniards have managed just three clean sheets in the Champions League this season. They have no clean sheet in their last four away matches across all competitions.
Key points Liverpool – Villarreal
Liverpool have scored two or more goals in nine of the last 10 matches.
Liverpool have one clean sheet in the last five Champions League matches.
In the last two Champions League games at home, Liverpool have gone winless.
Both sides have scored in three of Villarreal’s last five matches.
In 10 Champions League matches, Villarreal have managed just three clean sheets.
ConclusionLIVERPOOL – VILLARREAL
Villarreal have eliminated bigwigs in the last two rounds and here they will be eyeing another big result. They face a side in really good form and especially at home. It will call for a lot, but Liverpool have been shaky at home in this competition, though they are good in attack. We will back both sides scoring here.