Football

3 key battles for Liverpool v Villarreal Champions League tie

Liverpool continue their quadruple dream with a Champions League tie against Villarreal on Wednesday evening. The Reds host the Spanish side in the semi-final first leg.

It’s been a superb season for Jurgen Klopp’s men so far. They’ve already won the League Cup, and find themselves in the FA Cup final.

They are also in with a chance of stealing the Premier League trophy off Manchester City. That looks set to go down to the wire. Neither club will want to drop points as we enter the business end of the campaign.

But now all focus is on Europe. And they have a formidable challenge on their hands. Villarreal may not be the most feared club left in the tournament. But the Spanish side have previously knocked out Bayern Munich and Juventus.

They will now aim to do the same to high-flying Liverpool. But the Reds will not want to be overturned on home soil. It looks set to be another electric night under the lights.

Here are three key battles to keep an eye on at Anfield:

Virgil van Dijk v Arnaut Danjuma

Virgil van Dijk has proven to be one of the best defenders of his generation. He has barely set a foot wrong since joining the Reds. Only a handful of attackers have given the centre-back any real trouble over the years.

But Villarreal forward Arnaut Danjuma will be hoping to join that elite list. The attacker has 16 goals from 33 matches in all competitions this season. Six of those goals have come in the Champions League. Moreover, the pair will know each other well from international duty. Both are regulars in the Netherlands setup.

Mohamed Salah v Pervis Estupinan

Like Danjuma, Mohamed Salah has been in stunning form this season. The Egyptian boasts an incredible 30 goals from 43 matches. Eight of those have come from 10 Champions League games. He’s also provided 13 assists.

Villarreal left-back Pervis Estupinan is, therefore, in for a long evening. He will be run into the ground by a hungry Salah. The winger is always keen to get on the scoresheet. The full-back must be switched on at all times. His duties will undoubtedly largely focus on defending, with the visitors keen to leave Anfield with a clean sheet.

Thiago v Dani Parejo

Ex-Watford man Etienne Capoue looks set to sit deepest in the Villarreal midfield. Fabinho will do the same for Liverpool. That leaves Dani Parejo to battle out the midfield space with Thiago. It will be Spaniard versus Spaniard in the middle of the pitch.

Thiago has wowed Liverpool fans in recent matches. His displays on the ball have been exceptional. The midfielder will be eager to put on a show for the Anfield crowd once again. But Parejo will have other ideas. He will be lively, and will be keen to prove that there will be more than one playmaker on show.

About the author

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Peter Lynch

Sports Journalism graduate from the University of Stirling, huge Liverpool and Northern Ireland fan, currently working as a freelancer.

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