Villarreal head coach Marcelino has pointed to Liverpool’s financial strength as proof of the danger they pose in the Europa League semi-final second leg.
Adrian Lopez snatched an injury-time winner in the first leg at El Madrigal to give the Liga side a slender advantage heading into Thursday’s return match at Anfield.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp opted to field a weakened side for the Premier League trip to Swansea City at the weekend – a game they lost 3-1 – in order to rest his senior stars for the visit of Villarreal.
But Marcelino claims the fact that Christian Benteke – who came off the bench to score at the Liberty Stadium – has regularly been used as a back-up striker this season underlines the quality at Klopp’s disposal.
“It’ll be different to the first game. I expect a team who will press us more from the start and be more direct,” he said.
“We know where they are dangerous and the important thing is to counter that. We know only too well that we’ll suffer and we’ll have a battle to cause them problems.
“Liverpool have an outstanding squad. They paid €50million for Benteke, which is almost Villarreal’s budget. A player from midfield or attack could cause us danger if we’re not strong.
“This is a dream. We come having qualified for the Champions League [through La Liga], which makes us proud. We have to enjoy this stage. We’re going to give everything to reach the final.”
Villarreal captain Bruno Soriano is determined to reach the final in Basel, but is keen to avoid facing the kind of pressure that Atletico Madrid experienced against Bayern Munich on Tuesday, as they edged into the Champions League final despite a 2-1 defeat on the night.
“We have a lot of ambition and we’re fired up to play in a final. It’s a huge ambition for us,” he said. “We have the chance and we have to go out strong to make it happen.
“We’ll try not to suffer like Atletico in a very tough game. We come with the intention of going out to attack and not only closing up. We want to create danger for them, because that will be very important.”