The manager of Liverpool football club, Jurgen Klopp has insisted that he and his team would not underrate their UEFA Champions League semi-final opponent, Villarreal when they visit the Anfield stadium tonight.
Jurgen Klopp noted that a team that knocked out European giants like Bayern Munich and Juventus from this season’s UEFA Champions League campaign should not be looked down upon, adding that Villarreal are made for the UEFA Champions League.
Villarreal have enjoyed a beautiful run in the UEFA Champions League campaign so far in the 2021-2022 season. They lost two games in the group stage of the competition, won five, and drew three to make it to the semi-final stage.
The two most outstanding moments in Villarreal’s UEFA Champions League campaign happened in the round of 16 stage in which they knocked out Juventus 4-1 on aggregate, and in the quarter-final stage in which they knocked out Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate.
Though they have been performing wonders in Europe’s most prestigious club football competition, Villarreal have not been able to reciprocate such form in the Spanish La Liga. They are currently sitting on the 7th spot on the league table with 52 points in 33 games after recording 9 defeats, 10 draws, and just 14 wins.
Despite how Villarreal have been struggling in Spanish La Liga, coach Jurgen Klopp whose team is currently sitting on the second spot on the Premier League table with just a point away from first-placed Manchester City has described Villarreal as a very difficult opponent.
Jurgen Klopp who led Liverpool to win the 2019 edition of the UEFA Champions League stressed that Liverpool would not underestimate Villarreal like how Bayern and Juventus did.
“We face a very difficult opponent. They are made for the competition, the way they set up is really good,” Jurgen Klopp said.
“There might have been a little advantage in their last two games where Juventus or maybe Bayern Munich might have underestimated them – but that will never happen to us, especially after these four games, there’s no chance anymore.
“They are a really good football team who obviously want to be a part of the final but it’s the same importance for us.”
📺 Jurgen Klopp on Villarreal:— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) April 27, 2022
"We must make as difficult as possible for them and that is what we will try to do over these two legs." 🔴 pic.twitter.com/EsPI8GjQo8
Jurgen Klopp is facing coach Unai Emery in a European club competition for the first time since the 2015-2016 Europa League final
When Jurgen Klopp became the coach of Liverpool in 2015, his first major final was the 2015-2016 Europa League final between Sevilla and Liverpool.
Then, the coach of Sevilla was Unai Emery, the current coach of Villarreal. Emery led Sevilla to defeat Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool 3-1 to win the Europa League on May 18, 2016.
After the stunning defeat, Jurgen Klopp continued to build his Liverpool team and went on to lead the team to two successive UEFA Champions League finals, he won the 2019 edition of it and won the 2019-2020 Premier League title.
“I haven’t thought about that for a while. It was important. I said that night, I thought we’d come back from that moment stronger and we did”, Jurgen Klopp said about the aftermath of losing the Europa League final to Sevilla and coach Unai Emery in 2016.
“That night was a tough one to take. It was game number 64 of that season, a tough season. We can not really compare football games.”
Unai Emery knows Liverpool will not underrate Villarreal
The coach of Villarreal, Unai Emery has told reporters that his team deserve to be in the semi-final stage of the UEFA Champions League, adding that Liverpool know the pedigree of Villarreal in Europe.
“We deserve to be here. Any side that is in a Champions League semifinal is there because they deserve to be”, coach Unai Emery said.
“Liverpool know we have a great European presence, that we have been able to eliminate two great teams [in Juventus and Bayern.] They know it won’t be easy. This is the best Liverpool side that I can remember. They will feel like favorites, of course, but will have respect for us,” Emery said.