Villarreal Looks to Continue Incredible Run
Villarreal’s magical Champions League run continues as they face Liverpool in the semifinal. The Spanish club shocked the soccer world with knockout stage victories over both Juventus and Bayern Munich. They have an experienced manager in Unai Emery, who has won the Europa League four separate times and is just a few wins away from his first-ever Champions League title.
The Reds are overwhelming favorites, but we’ll discuss why the Spanish side shouldn’t be counted out in this Liverpool vs Villarreal match betting preview.
Liverpool vs Villarreal Match Betting Preview
- Location: Anfield, Liverpool, England
- Date & Time: Wednesday 3 p.m. ET
- TV: Paramount+, TUDN
- May 2016: Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal
- April 2016: Villarreal 1-0 Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool overcame a one-goal deficit in the second leg of the 2016 Europa League semifinal and defeated Villarreal 3-0 to advance to the final. There, they were defeated 3-1 by current Villarreal manager Emery’s Sevilla.
That remains Emery’s only career win over Liverpool. As Arsenal manager from 2018-19, he was winless in four matches vs the Reds.
Liverpool in Contention for Quadruple
- Quarterfinal Results: Liverpool 3-3 Benfica; Benfica 1-3 Liverpool
- Form (All Competitions): W,W,W,D,D
- Injuries and suspensions: F Roberto Firmino (ankle)
Everton didn’t make things easy for Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby, but Jurgen Klopp’s men still came away with a 2-0 win to stay in the English Premier League title race. Andy Robertson nodded home a header to open up the scoring and Divock Origi scored yet another Merseyside Derby goal to double the lead. It’s still possible for the Reds to win the quadruple of the FA Cup, League Cup, Premier League and Champions League, which would be an incredible achievement.
Klopp won’t let his Reds get complacent, but they are -700 favorites to advance to the final according to the Liverpool vs. Villarreal odds. With a front three of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz or Diogo Jota, Liverpool is quite possibly the most dangerous attacking team remaining in the UCL. They’ve scored two or more goals in each of their last seven matches in all competitions and show no signs of letting up.
Forward Roberto Firmino is still recovering from an ankle injury, but Liverpool is relatively healthy coming into this semifinal match. Anfield has been Liverpool’s fortress and they certainly aren’t easily beaten in front of their home fans.
Villarreal Defying Expectations
- Quarterfinal Results: Bayern Munich1-1 Villarreal; Villarreal 1-0 Bayern Munich
- Form (All Competitions): W,W,D,D,W
- Injuries and suspensions: D Alberto Moreno (ACL), F Gerard Moreno (Hamstring)
It seems to defy logic and conventional wisdom, but Villarreal just keeps on winning in the Champions League. They’re nearly guaranteed to miss out on the top four in La Liga for a sixth consecutive season, but their tactics in knockout matches have been impeccable. Villarreal frustrated Bayern Munich over 180 hard-fought minutes and only conceded one goal to the Bavarian giants.
This may be Emery and Villarreal’s toughest test yet, especially with forward Gerard Moreno recovering from a hamstring issue. In his stead, though, Arnaut Danjuma has been scoring goals with aplomb and he could certainly give the Liverpool backline some trouble. Danjuma scored the winner over Bayern in the first leg of the semifinal and bagged a brace in Villarreal’s recent 2-0 win over Valencia.
Villarreal are +1000 underdogs according to the UEFA Champions League semifinal odds but are unbeaten in their last four away matches in the competition. They’ve been able to consistently deny their opponents decent goal-scoring opportunities and seem to step up when it matters most.
What to Watch
Emery will certainly make some tactical adjustments to try to neutralize the unique threats that Liverpool pose. The key to the match will be stopping Liverpool wingers Salah and Mane, which is certainly not an easy task. Emery is no stranger to putting players in unorthodox positions and that could once again be the case in a bid to shut down Liverpool’s attack.
Any Liverpool vs. Villarreal match betting preview wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the 1½-goal spread, which favorites Liverpool are seen as more likely to cover. Villarreal have only lost by more than a one-goal margin once in 10 Champions League matches this season. That was a 2-0 home loss to Manchester United, which Liverpool recently defeated 4-0.
Liverpool’s team total is over/under 2½ goals, but it is worth noting that Villarreal haven’t conceded three goals in the Champions League this season and for 28 matches in all competitions. Liverpool have blown out some incredible teams this season but it certainly wouldn’t be shocking if this were a close one.