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Liverpool vs. Villarreal: Head-to-head history, Klopp vs. Emery, fixture dates for Champions League semi-final
Liverpool are on the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple – and their journey will now have to run through the humble city of Villarreal.
Unai Emery has weaved his European magic yet again, taking the reigning Europa League kings to the semi-finals of the Champions League, having defeated the mighty Bayern Munich in the last eight.
The Reds, meanwhile, overcame Benfica 6-4 on aggregate, and were afforded the luxury of resting several superstar names in the second leg, including Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk.
With a final-four date now set for these two teams – with the winner to take on either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the Paris final – The Sporting News rounds up the previous meetings of both clubs and managers.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal fixtures
|Dates||April 27 & May 3||April 27 & May 3||April 27 & May 3||April 28 & May 4|
|Time||20:00||3:00 p.m. ET||3:00 p.m. ET||5:00 a.m. AET|
|TV channel||BT Sport||TBC||–||–|
|Streaming||BT Sport||Paramount+||DAZN||Stan Sport|
In the US, Spanish-language coverage of the Champions League is available on fuboTV, which also offers a free trial to new subscribers.
In Canada, every Champions League game streams live on DAZN.
Are Liverpool home or away for the first leg?
The first leg will be played at Anfield on April 27. Jurgen Klopp will want to make the most of Liverpool’s home advantage, and the famous of Anfield atmosphere, to put his team in control at the halfway stage of the tie – much like they did against Roma in 2017/18.
Liverpool will travel to Spain for the second leg, to be played on May 4. Estadio de la Cerámica has a capacity of only 23,500, but the home fans will no doubt be in fine voice as they look to cheer Unai Emery’s side home.
Have Liverpool played Villarreal before?
Villarreal and Liverpool have only contested one European tie before, when they met at the semi-final stage of the Europa League, in the 2015/16 season. The first leg took place in Spain, and Marcelino’s Villarreal won 1-0 courtesy of an Adrián López goal that came in the 93rd minute.
However, Liverpool were too strong for the Spanish side in the second leg, and scored three without reply, to win the tie 3-1 on aggregate. Bruno Soriano scored an own-goal early on, and strikes from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana in the second half put the game to bed.
In his first season at the club, Klopp guided Liverpool to their first European final since 2007. In the final, they faced Emery’s Sevilla, coincidentally. Managed by the Europa League specialist, Sevilla came out on top.
Although Liverpool went ahead with a Daniel Sturridge goal, they couldn’t hold onto the lead. Kévin Gameiro equalised at the start of the second half, and a brace from Coke saw Emery’s side lift the trophy.
From the Liverpool side that contested European games in Klopp’s first season, the only remaining players are James Milner, Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson and Divock Origi.
What is Klopp’s record against Emery?
Unai Emery and Jurgen Klopp have gone head-to-head five times in the past, all five games coming during Klopp’s time at Anfield. The first match, as mentioned above, was the Europa League final in 2016. The remaining four games took place during Emery’s ill-fated spell as Arsenal manager.
The first was a 1-1 draw, in November 2018. James Milner put Liverpool ahead the Emirates after an hour but, with 10 minutes left to play, Alexandre Lacazette fired home to salvage point for the Gunners. That was as good as it got for Emery’s Arsenal against Liverpool.
The reverse league fixture, in late December that year, saw Arsenal go ahead early through Ainsley Maitland-Niles, before Liverpool replied with five goals of their own. A Roberto Firmino hat-trick, along with a goal each for Mo Salah and Sadio Mané, downed Arsenal.
Their next meeting was the league fixture at Anfield the following season, in August 2019. It was another comfortable win for Liverpool, this time 3-1, with a Joel Matip opener followed by a brace from Salah. Lucas Torreira scored a consolation goal for Arsenal with five minutes left.
Their most recent meeting came in a remarkable League Cup match that ended 5-5. An early own-goal from Shkodran Mustafi put Liverpool ahead, but an equaliser from Torreira, followed by a Martinelli brace, had Arsenal 3-1 up. James Milner pulled one back, before Ainsley Maitland-Niles got in on the goalscoring with one of his own.
Goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Divock Origi made it 4-4. Arsenal again took the lead, this time through a sensational long-range Joe Willock thunderbolt, but Divock Origi scored again in the 95th minute. The game went to penalties, and Liverpool won the shoot-out 5-4, after Dani Ceballos missed.
Liverpool Champions League semi-final preview
Liverpool head into the sem-final in confident mood. They’ve already won one trophy so far this season, and talk of an unprecedented quadruple continues unabated. After dispatching Benfica, many are looking at Liverpool as clear favourites against Villarreal, and understandably so.
Only a point behind Man City in the Premier League title race, and with an FA Cup semi final against the same opponents to come, Liverpool face a busy month, which will be season-defining. Liverpool’s squad is in good shape, without too many injuries. They were able to rest both full-backs, as well as Virgil van Dijk, against Benfica, and they have strength in depth elsewhere in the squad.
With Salah, Mané, Firmino, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz competing for three places, the depth in Liverpool’s attack is second-to-none, and a source of real optimism at Anfield. Even with a hectic schedule to come, Liverpool should have the squad to come through in one piece.
Few clubs are better acquainted with Champions League success than the Reds, who have lifted the trophy six times in their history, most recently in 2019. With Klopp having personally guided them to one Champions League title already, many will be optimistic that he can repeat the feat.
Villarreal Champions League semi-final preview
Villarreal don’t have anywhere near the European pedigree of their opponents in this semi-final, and take on their usual status of underdogs. They lifted their first major European trophy in 2021, when they beat Manchester United on penalties in the Europa League final, but their Champions League record is poor.
In their history, they’ve played 44 matches in the competition. They’ve won just 14, with 15 draws and 15 losses. However, they have Emery. He’s much better at setting up a team to negate an opponent than he is at taking the game to other teams, as shown by his time at Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal, while he’s clearly much better at getting his ideas across in Spanish than he is in other languages.
Villarreal are having a poor league season, sitting outside the European places in 7th, and Emery wasn’t a popular man earlier in the campaign, but these runs in European competitions are what he’s best suited to, and that makes him the ideal coach for this matchup. Of his last 24 two-legged knockout ties, he’s progressed in 22 – the two defeats coming with PSG.