Weblog: The football punter

Liverpool may be left to rue lack of away goal

LIVERPOOL conceded a late goal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final against Villarreal and I'm not mad about the Reds at odds-on to win the second leg at Anfield.

They rose to the occasion in the previous round with a wonderful 4-3 comeback win over Borussia Dortmund but Villarreal may not get drawn into such a chaotic game.

They're a streetwise side who are comfortably the fourth-best team in Spain (and given that the three above them are Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, there's no shame in that).

The Yellow Submarine have let in only 31 league goals this season – ten against the big three – and I reckon Liverpool could be left to rue the away-goals rule by the end of tonight's game.

The rule remains a controversial aspect of European football (basically, if your team goes out on away goals it's an absolute disgrace, while if they progress the regulations make perfect sense).

Liverpool seem to relish the situation they found themselves in against Dortmund, when they have no choice but to attack.

However, I'm not convinced they've got the tactical nous to handle tonight's tie especially if the visitors can keep it goalless for an hour or so.

I'm having a decent bet on Villarreal qualifying for the final. Mind you, if the Yellow Submarine go 2-0 up inside ten minutes, it'll be time to jump ship and back the comeback kids to conjure up some more Anfield magic. That's a masterclass in disciplined punting.

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Match in Focus


Liverpool v Villarreal

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Liverpool have scored in each of their six Europa League home games
Expert verdict
A late defensive lapse handed Villarreal the edge going into this Europa League semi-final second leg but Liverpool can overcome the 1-0 deficit and book their place in the Basel final. The Reds weren’t at their best in southern Spain but had chances to score and can push on in front of the Anfield Kop.