May 27, 2022

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Rory Smith

Champions League updates: Liverpool beat Villarreal to reach the final

You can, in the end, count on the Champions League. Just under an hour ago, Liverpool were sailing to their third final in five years, and the first leg with Villarreal was more of a management issue. Now, he finds himself trapped in a delirium-filled stadium, facing an opponent who bares his teeth, and in the midst of his worst performance in months.

Jurgen Klopp’s team eventually fell behind due to Villarreal’s intensity, purpose and speed. An early goal for Boulaye Dea seemed to undermine Liverpool’s confidence. In a way, given how easy and cheap it is for Klopp’s players to concede possession, it is surprising that Villarreal waited until the 41st minute to find the second goal, via Francis Coquelin, who equalized the tie on aggregate.

Liverpool now has very little margin for error. Klopp has to find a way to give his team more offensive edge and more control in possession, while at the same time not giving Villarreal more encouragement. Emery’s selection is much simpler. Does he go for the kill on the spot, reflects the speed with which his team started the first half. Or is he trying to frustrate Liverpool and direct his defense with a counterattack?

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