Date:27th April 2022 at 12:00pm
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Liverpool face Villarreal on Wednesday in the first leg of their Champions League semi final, with the Reds looking to move a step closer to an unprecedented quadruple.

Having wrapped up the Carabao Cup with victory over Chelsea at Wembley in Fabruary, Jurgen Klopp’s side remain in contention to also win the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

While they looked to have been haded a favourable draw in Villarreal, the Spanish side have already knocked both Juventus and Bayern Munich out of this season’s competition, and will likely provide a stern test for the Reds.

Liverpool have had just three days to prepare for the game, since their Merseyside derby victory over Everton on Sunday, and Klopp may therefore be forced to rotate.

Below, we have a look at the Xi that Klopp could select for the visit of Villarreal.

Goalkeeper

Alisson has started all 11 of Liverpool’s Champions League games so far this season, but hasn’t kept a clean sheet in any of their last three matches in the competition. The Brazilian will be up against a Villarreal side who have scored 12 goals across their four away matches so far.

Defenders

In defence, Trent Alexander-Arnold will start at right-back, and will hope to push forward against Villarreal’s left side. In the middle, Virgil van Dijk will start. The Dutchman has played his part in keeping 25 clean sheets this season, and will be responsible for dealing with the likes of Arnaut Danjuma and Gerard Moreno.

Van Dijk is in line for his 175th Liverpool appearance

His partner will likely be Ibrahima Konate. The 22-year-old has struggled to maintain a place in the Premier League, but has played in five of Liverpool’s last six European games and provides a more significant attacking threat than Joel Matip. The Cameroonian defender will likely sit on the bench alongside Joe Gomez.

On the left, Andy Robertson will start having opened the scoring in the Reds’ 2-0 win over Everton at Anfield on Sunday. The Scot has previously struggled to match the attacking output of Alexander-Arnold on the opposite side, but has two goals and 15 assists to his name this season and will undoubtedly cause problems for Villarreal.

Midfielders

Fabinho will be deployed at the base of Liverpool’s midfield, having featured in all 10 of the club’s European games so far this term. The Brazilian was criticised for his performance against Manchester City earlier this month, but has since been imperious in victories over both Manchester United and Everton.

Fabinho will shield the Reds’ back line

Another certain starter will be Thiago, who has also been in sensational form of late. The ex-Bayern Munich man has only started four Champions League games this season, but will be used from the beginning against Villarreal.

Club captain Jordan Henderson will be the most likely candidate to complete the Reds’ midfield trio. The ex-Sunderland man was one of three second-half substitutions against Everton.

Forwards

Up front, Klopp has a plethora of talent to choose from and the real headache for the German may be having to choose just three to start the match. Mohamed Salah is usually the most obvious starter due to his sensational goal record, and the Egyptian will likely line up for this one. Salah has eight goals in 10 European games so far this season, and 30 across all competitions.

Klopp will be relying on Salah’s attacking threat

Through the middle, Diogo Jota could once again start ahead of Roberto Firmino. The Portuguese has 21 goals this season, but has only netted once in Europe.

On the other side of Jota will be Luis Diaz, who showcased his skills as an impact substitute during the victory over Everton. The Colombian has been electric since arriving in England, and his acrobatic assist set up Divock Origi for the Reds’ second on Sunday.

While it is only the first leg, a win on Wednesday would go a long way towards Liverpool realising their dream of the quadruple. Man City are all that stand in their way in the Premier League, and it may well be the case that the two meet once again in the Champions League final next month.

 
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