Liverpool may have had to wait for the second half for the breakthrough, but in truth they were comfortable winners in the first leg at Anfield. Although they’ll have to give up home advantage here, Jurgen Klopp will certainly expect his side to get the business done and the current two-goal cushion should be enough to make this a relatively straight forward night.
Villarreal could only muster the single shot in the first leg and even that wasn’t on target, while they were hardly full of attacking ambition in the previous round.
In fact, they managed just two efforts on target against Bayern, sitting on an early lead in the first encounter, before bagging an 88th-minute equalizer in the second contest.
In addition to those pair of low-scoring encounters, they’ve also seen fewer than three goals in home clashes with the likes of Man Utd and Juventus in Europe this season.
The Spanish outfit did see three strikes in their most recent outing away at Alaves, conceding twice in the first half before hitting back with a goal just after the break.
However, that was unusual in that it was only the second time in nine matches where they’ve seen at least three goals, and it would come as no surprise if this was another low-scoring affair.
Liverpool To Win And Under 2.5 Goals
Indeed, Villarreal have a manager with proven pedigree in European competition before, albeit the Europa League, but the former Sevilla and Arsenal boss has never enjoyed a reputation for thrilling football.
Only three sides (Real Madrid – 29, Sevilla – 28 and Real Sociedad – 32) have conceded fewer league goals in Spain than the 33 Villarreal have shipped this season. Unai Emery should have Gerard Moreno back leading the line here, but the service to the 30-year-old is likely to be limited at best up against one of the strongest defences in Europe.
Liverpool may not be lacking in attacking tools with the winter capture of Luis Diaz bolstering their options further, but they’ve been more efficient than spectacular in their past few outings since securing an FA Cup semi-final win over Man City and thrashing a sorry Man Utd.
Everton, Villarreal and Newcastle have all been dispatched by low scorelines and with the sheer quantity of games the Reds must play in their bid for the quadruple, it would be entirely understandable if they eased their foot off the gas as the game wears on should they find themselves in cruise control as expected.
LIVERPOOL TO WIN AND UNDER 2.5 GOALS
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