It was all going to plan for Liverpool until Adrian broke the deadlock at El Madrigal in the first leg to give the return leg an entirely different shape. Liverpool lost 3-1 at Swansea on Sunday with what was close to a reserve side as their season now revolves around this competition. Villarreal, meanwhile, all but secured 4th spot in La Liga thanks to a win at the Mestalla and since they were 2-0 up after 33 minutes, Marcelino was able to make his substitutions fairly early with this tie in mind.
Despite returning to Anfield with a deficit to overcome, Liverpool will surely be confident of turning things around after what they did against Dortmund. The Reds’ European record at Anfield since 2010/11 is W14-D7-L2, with one of those defeats coming against Real Madrid in the group stages of last season’s Champions League. Liverpool’s home record in Europa League knockout matches since 2009/10 is W10-D1-L0 as they kept eight clean sheets in these matches. In the league under Klopp, Liverpool have hosted each of the top-five and have a W2-D2-L1 record, with that defeat coming against Man United, but they’ve since gained revenge in this competition, as well as beating that very impressive Dortmund side in the last round.
The record of sides that have lost the first leg of an away Europa League quarter or semi-final 1-0 is W8-D2-L0 in the return leg since 2001/02 and if we also include Last-16 ties it’s W19-D4-L1 since 2004/05. There’s also a strong ‘overs’ trend as 54% of these games (13/24) saw more than three goals. Klopp went with the now injured Origi supported by Coutinho and Firmino in the home tie against Dortmund but Firmino, Coutinho and Sturridge started both legs against Man United and that trio look set to line up here. Indeed, Liverpool’s attacking players have been in excellent form as they’ve scored at least twice in six of their last seven at home in all competitions and as a result Over 2.5 and 3.5 are both worth consideration.
Villarreal have scored in 11 of their 12 European away games since the start of last season and didn’t lose any of these by more than one goal, which puts us off Liverpool to qualify somewhat as we could see a scenario like we did in Munich on Tuesday night where Bayern won 2-1 but were knocked out on away goals. However, given Liverpool’s strong European home record the best bet looks to be siding with the home win.
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