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Opponent watch: Emery admits Villarreal could miss key players vs Liverpool tonight

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Team News: Villarreal could miss six first-team players for the UCL second leg tie vs Liverpool

According to Liverpool Echo, Villarreal manager Unai Emery confirmed that Yeremy Pino and Alberto Moreno would miss the upcoming UCL fixture against Liverpool, while Arnaut Danjuma, Gerard Moreno, Raul Albiol and Francis Coquelin remain a major doubt. 

Liverpool are set to take on Villarreal in the Champions League semi-final second leg today. Having secured a 2-0 victory in the first leg, the Reds would hope to win the fixture on aggregate after today’s match. 

Villarreal have already knocked out the likes of Bayern Munich and Juventus, suggesting that the Yellow Submarines have a strong squad. However, their manager might not be able to use his best XI against the Reds due to injury issues. 

 Arnaut Danjuma is one of the best players of  Villarreal.
Arnaut Danjuma is one of the best players of Villarreal.

Arnaut Danjuma missed his team’s last La Liga tie against Alaves and was sidelined during later training sessions. Unai Emery recently revealed that the ex-Bournemouth winger is suffering from pain and discomfort.  

“Danjuma has also had some discomfort. He has not trained today with the group, and tomorrow morning we will see if he is in a position to play as well.”

The Yellow Submarine manager also confirmed that the injured Yeremy Pino wouldn’t be a part of the team that’s going to take on Jurgen Klopp’s men.  

“Yeremy, it is true that he has an injury that will make him miss out.”

Former Liverpool full-back Alberto Moreno is still in the recovery phase and wouldn’t be featuring against his old team. As much as the Reds fans adored him when he was here on Merseyside, perhaps his inclusion wouldn’t have bothered many of us to begin with. 

Alberto Moreno in action for Villarreal. (imago Images)

Having picked knocks in recent weeks, Gerard Moreno, Raul Albiol and Francis Coquelin remain at risk. Even though the trio has returned to training, whether the manager puts them in the starting lineup is still doubtful.  

Good news for the Reds? 

Even though Liverpool are expected to have the upper hand in the return fixture having won the first tie with a 2-0 scoreline, things can never be guaranteed in the UCL. When a team such as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United could overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against PSG, it isn’t past the Spaniards to get the better of us.

Moreover, Villarreal are the reigning UEFA Europa League champions, defeating Manchester United in last year’s final. Sure, their squad at full strength would have been a worry for Klopp, but they possess a very strong team even without some of their big names.

Can Liverpool win the second leg tie against Villarreal?
Can Liverpool win the second leg tie against Villarreal?

One early goal for them and the tie could turn on its head. Perhaps Klopp recognized how vulnerable his team can be in Spain, as he dropped some of the big names against Newcastle United this weekend.

For the Reds, our squad is more or less at full strength. Divock Origi is apparently back in training while Roberto Firmino, while ruled out of the game, will still travel with the Reds to Spain.

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The Reds’ team should approach the game by giving the deserved respect to the opponent. Whether the injuries work in favour of us remains to be seen, but no matter what players ex-Arsenal manager Unai Emery fields tonight, it won’t be an easy task for us.