Unai Emery praises Anfield atmosphere after Liverpool beat Villarreal in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final
Speaking after Villarreal lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final, as quoted by Liverpool Echo, Unai Emery praised the atmosphere at Anfield during the encounter.
Before the game, ex-Tottenham Hotspur and current Villarreal midfielder, Etienne Capoue, labelled Anfield as ‘hell‘ because of how difficult the fans make it for opposition players to play there. And the stadium certainly lived up to the billing yesterday night as a deflected goal from Jordan Henderson and a neat finish from Sadio Mane helped us to a 2-0 win.
The ground was bouncing from minute 1. Both sets of supporters had mutual respect for each other- a stark contrast to what we got to witness against Manchester City and Man United earlier this month.
Emery had a few things to say about the famous Anfield atmosphere as well. The former Arsenal boss says that his team knew about the passion LFC fans show, and was glad that his club’s fans contributed as well.
“We know Liverpool supporters are amazing. Here, the atmosphere, the stadium was full. It’s incredible and good for them. Our supporters are less but they came here to share with us this moment. For them it was amazing to be here in Liverpool. A good moment for football in Villarreal.”
What to expect?
The Spanish side has been touted as the underdog in their last two UCL knockout ties as well. They first shocked Juventus before eliminating Bayern Munich in the last-8 this season, but it was always going to be a tough task taking on a superteam such as Liverpool.
The Reds would have been aware of the threat the Yellow Submarines pose by now and paid due respect to their abilities in the first leg. But so did the La Liga side, who looked like they came to defend rather than pursue a lead away from home.
However, Emery believes his team will have something different up their sleeves for the second leg, which will be played on 3rd May at El Madrigal. Needing to overturn a two-goal deficit, they won’t have an option but to attack Liverpool.
“We will try next week to do something different. We will have different options and try to get a better result after this 2-0.”
Villarreal aren’t pushovers; not by any means. And Liverpool must understand the task that awaits them in Spain next month. A third goal could have eased things for us but with a lead of two goals, it becomes important to manage the game well. Defending the lead from the get-go will invite immense pressure on our backline.
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But attacking the Spaniards relentlessly will also leave spaces in behind to be exploited. Jurgen Klopp is a master tactician and fans would trust him to get over the second-leg barrier and lead the Reds into their third UCL final since the German took over.