UEFA Champions League semifinal: Villarreal not just travelling ‘to look at Anfield’


Villarreal hope to make it second time lucky in the Champions League semifinals when they travel to Anfield for the first leg of their semifinal later on Wednesday.

The side coached by Unai Emery has already caused two upsets in the competition this year, knocking Juventus out in the last-16 and beating Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals.

Now they aim to go one step further than those in the 2005-06 season when they lost 1-0 on aggregate to Arsenal.

Emery led his side to triumph in last season’s Europa League, beating Manchester United in the final, but Anfield will be a huge challenge for the Spanish side.

Villarreal travel to England after wins in their last two La Liga matches which saw them beat Getafe and Valencia and the fact they have had a weekend’s rest is also an advantage against Liverpool, who had to play a demanding local derby against Everton on Sunday afternoon, Xinhua reports.

Spain international striker Gerard Moreno is almost certain to miss out after failing to recover from a hamstring injury he 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 as the season has progressed following his move from Bournemouth in the summer and the Dutch international has scored 10 goals in La Liga and six in the Champions League this season.

Villarreal also have a lot of experience playing in England, with Francis Coquelin, Etienne Capoue, Dani Parejo, Alfonso Pedraza, Serge Aurier, Alberto Moreno and Vicente Iborra all having spells in the English game, 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.



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