THE ULTRA Weds: Champions League Preview


CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: The Ultra previews Wednesday’s second Champions League semi-final between LIVERPOOL V VILLARREAL including a recommended BETDAQ bet and extended match stats.


8pm The Champions League Semi-Finals continue on Wednesday night on BETDAQ Betting Exchange as Liverpool host Villarreal. Anfield will no doubt be rocking for this massive European night, and it’s fair to say the market is fully expecting a comfortable home win with Jurgen Klopp’s men trading as short as 1.31 to win the first leg. Everyone is expecting an easy tie for Liverpool as they are trading even shorter to qualify, but let’s not forget that Villarreal have knocked out Juventus and Bayern Munich on the way here!

Villarreal are by no means a glamour side. They have been underrated at every stage of the knockouts, but their performances have been top class. I don’t think anyone could look at the stats and say that they don’t deserve to be here. I know Juventus haven’t been at their usual level this season, but they were on top in both legs. They finished a close first leg with over double the xG figure that Juventus managed, and then they hammered them 3-0 away from home in the second leg. They were lucky not to concede against Bayern Munich, but at the same time they kept Bayern to xG figures of 1.23 and 1.60 over the two legs – that’s fantastic for coming up against a top side like Bayern.

It will be fascinating to see can they stop this Liverpool side. I have no doubt they will approach this first leg in a very cagey fashion and it will basically be attack v defence here. Villarreal are having a pretty average season in La Liga, they started the season very slowly but they are back in the mix now for European spots. They will be exceptionally well organised for this tie, especially because they didn’t have to play in La Liga at the weekend. The big question is; how do they stop Liverpool?

When I look at Liverpool’s attacking stats this season, I just can’t see Villarreal having a chance over the two legs. I can see them being very cagey and setting up negatively here, perhaps holding Liverpool to a 1-0 or 2-0 win, but I just can’t see them seeing enough of the ball to score more than Liverpool and I can’t see them stopping Liverpool from scoring either. This Liverpool side have been creating chances and scoring goals for fun this season – they’ve had a tough fixture list recent too and still scored so many goals.

While I can see Liverpool grinding out a 1-0 or 2-0 win, I wouldn’t be a massive fan of the 1.31. It’s hard to argue that Liverpool should be 1.2 here, and if anything that’s just a price to pass on for me. I see the value being in the goals market here. The market is clearly expecting a big Liverpool win and plenty of goals, but I don’t see the game going like that. Villarreal know that an open game doesn’t suit them here, and I can’t see them changing their shape unless they go 2-0 down early. I know that is something to be worried about with this Liverpool side given how good they are, but I still like a small bet on unders here.

I see Liverpool fully controlling the game but struggling a little to break down Villarreal at the back. Villarreal have saved all their top performances for the Champions League this season so I wouldn’t read too much into their La Liga form. Under 3.5 goals is 1.58 and that just looks too big in my opinion. I don’t see Villarreal seeing enough of the ball, or attacking enough, to score so under 3.5 goals even allows for a 3-0 Liverpool win. Like I said though, I see this being a 1-0 or 2-0 win for Liverpool as they have to work hard to break down this solid Villarreal side.

The Ultra Says:
Three points win Under 3.5 goals at 1.58 with BETDAQ BETTING EXCHANGE.

You can view all markets here ->


● Liverpool and Villarreal have met just twice before in European competition, with both sides winning their home leg of the 2015-16 UEFA Europa League semi-finals, when Liverpool would go on to progress to the final against Unai Emery’s Sevilla.
● Since a 2-1 victory in Merseyside over Everton back in August 2005, Villarreal haven’t managed to win any of their last eight away games in England in all competitions (D3 L5); already tasting defeat at Old Trafford in the group stages earlier this season.
● During his managerial career, Villarreal boss Unai Emery has faced Liverpool five times (once with Sevilla and four times with Arsenal), with those matches producing 26 goals (5.2 per game on average), and both teams netting in each. The only European meeting between man and club was the 2016 UEFA Europa League final, in which Emery’s Sevilla side beat Jürgen Klopp’s Reds 3-1.
● Liverpool have reached the semi-final of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League for the 12th time, with no English side playing in the final four more often (level with Manchester United). Indeed, as a club, the Reds have reached the semi-finals of the League Cup, FA Cup and European Cup in the same campaign for the very first time.
● Of the 12 sides to have reached the semi-finals of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League on at least five occasions, only Benfica (7/8) and AC Milan (10/12) have a higher ratio of progressing to the final than Liverpool (82%), who have managed to reach the final on nine of their previous 11 occasions.
● This will be the fourth time out of Villarreal’s last five semi-final appearances in major European competition to see them come up against English opposition at the final four stage, with their only other encounter in this competition coming against Arsenal in 2005-06. The Spanish side were eliminated 1-0 on aggregate, with Villarreal also being the final visiting side to play a European match at the old Highbury stadium.
● Villarreal’s Gerard Moreno has registered four assists in the UEFA Champions League this term, with only three players managing more. Indeed, since 2003-04, this is the joint-most by a Spanish player in their debut campaign in the competition, along with Gabi (2013-14) and Isaac Cuenca (2011-12).
● Only in 2017-18 (10) has Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah scored more UEFA Champions League goals in a single campaign than the eight he’s notched this season, moving his tally for the club onto 33. The Egyptian is now just three behind both Didier Drogba (Chelsea) and Sergio Agüero (Man City) for the most goals netted in the competition for an English side (36 each).
● Of the remaining players in the competition this season, only Karim Benzema (15) has registered more secondary chances created than Villarreal’s Dani Parejo (14), which is the pass played before the final pass sets up a shot or goal, highlighting a player’s influence on their team’s ability to find shooting opportunities.
● Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the inaugural UEFA Europa League campaign, Villareal manager Unai Emery has progressed from 84% of his UEFA Europa League/Champions League knockout ties (31/37), the second-best ratio of any manager to have taken charge of at least 10, after only Zinedine Zidane (14/16 – 88%).

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