Diaz will start on offense
Liverpool will be hoping to avoid the same fate as fellow European heavyweights Juventus and Bayern Munich when they host giants-killers Villarreal in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
The Reds are unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 Champions League games but will have to be wary of complacency against a side who have upended their chances of making the last four for only the second time in their history. Villarreal’s previous appearance in the semi-finals of Europe’s elite club competition ended in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Arsenal.
Villarreal boss Unai Emery is famous for his European knockout record; the Spaniard-led teams advanced 31 times from 37 attempts. But his record against Liverpool is not very legible. The Reds have lost just once to a side managed by Emery, with the Spaniard having faltered on each of his last three visits to Anfield.
Liverpool team news
Jurgen Klopp has no new injury concerns ahead of the game. Roberto Firmino is closing in on his full form, but will miss this game.
The last time we faced @VillarrealCF in a European semi-final ⏪
—Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 27, 2022
Jordan Henderson, Ibrahima Konate and Luis Diaz are all pushing for departures after being left out against Everton at the weekend.
Expected composition of Liverpool against Villarreal (4-3-3)
Alisson will start in the Reds’ goal against Villarreal. The Brazilian has kept clean sheets in a row after a four-game clean streak.
Andy Robertson produced a rare goal in the 2-0 win over Everton and will continue at left-back ahead of Kostas Tsimikas, who has barely made a mistake this season.
Ibrahima Konaté could be recalled to Liverpool’s line-up in place of Joel Matip as centre-back. The Frenchman scored in both legs against Benfica in the previous round. He will be partnered with Virgil Van Dijk, who remains a rock in Liverpool’s backline.
Trent Alexander-Arnold will start on the right as always.
Thiago has been in stellar form lately, exerting a huge influence on games with his passing and composure. His passing range and vision will be key against a Villarreal side who are expected to sit back and absorb the pressure.
Jordan Henderson was named on the bench against Everton and could return to Liverpool’s line-up for this game, replacing Naby Keita.
Fabinho will complete Liverpool’s formidable midfield trio. The Brazilian is an integral part of the center of the park, always on hand to break up opposition attacks.
With Firmino ruled out, Sadio Mane could lead the line for Klopp’s side. The Senegalese has scored three times in the Champions League this season and should be fresh for this game, having been taken off on the hour mark against Everton.
Mohamed Salah will continue on the right flank. The Egyptian is going through something of a drought, having scored just twice in his last seven appearances in all competitions. But his tally of eight Champions League goals makes him the competition’s fourth top scorer this season.
Luis Diaz is set to be reinstated on the left flank after coming off the bench against Everton. Diaz has come into his own after arriving from Porto and will have an important role to play in the Merseyside club’s quest for a four-fold.