Spanish side Villarreal will travel to Anfield for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal later on Wednesday, hoping for a second chance.
Unai Emery’s team has already caused two upsets in the competition this season, knocking out Juventus in the last-16 and beating Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals.
They now hope to go one step further than they did in the 2005-06 season, when they were defeated 1-0 on aggregate by Arsenal.
Emery led his team to victory in the Europa League last season, defeating Manchester United in the final, but Anfield will be a huge challenge for the Spanish side.
Villarreal travel to England after victories over Getafe and Valencia in their last two La Liga matches, and the fact that they have had a weekend’s rest gives them an advantage over Liverpool, who had to play a demanding local derby against Everton on Sunday afternoon, according to Xinhua.
Gerard Moreno of Spain is almost certain to miss out after failing to recover from a hamstring injury suffered against Getafe, and the game against Valencia served as a ‘casting’ for his replacement, with Samuel Chukwueze and Yeremi Pino both options to start if Emery chooses to use Arnaut Danjuma in a central role.
Danjuma has improved throughout the season since joining from Bournemouth in the summer, and the Dutch international has 10 goals in La Liga and six in the UEFA Champions League this season.
Villarreal also have a lot of experience in England, with Francis Coquelin, Etienne Capoue, Dani Parejo, Alfonso Pedraza, Serge Aurier, Alberto Moreno, and Vicente Iborra all having played there, with Moreno even playing for Liverpool.
“Liverpool are the best team in Europe but, as a footballer you want to play this sort of game,” said Coquelin in an interview published in the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday.
“We have a dream in the back of our heads to play a Champions League final. We know it’s tough but the whole team, the whole town, is excited. It’s difficult but we’ve got confidence: we knocked out Bayern Munich and Juventus and we’re going there to compete. We’re not going there just to look at Anfield,” he said.
(Inputs from IANS)