Anfield vs history as Liverpool prepare for Villarreal clash
Spirit will be the key as Reds aim to torpedo Spain's Yellow Submarine in The Beatles' home city
Liverpool face Villarreal in tonight's Europa League semi-final needing another comeback. But manager Jurgen Klopp believes the "outstanding atmosphere" at Anfield can help the Reds torpedo the Spanish Yellow Submarine in the city of The Beatles.
The "cacophany" generated by the Kop during the team's amazing victory over Borussia Dortmund showed just how important the Anfield factor can be, says The Times.
"If we can create with our game a similar atmosphere as Dortmund, then it will be much more difficult for Villarreal than they imagine in this moment," said Klopp.
The Reds trail 1-0 going into the second leg, after Villarreal's Denis Suarez scored in injury time at the end of the first game.
Now they "need to do what they did against Borussia Dortmund at Anfield, and make this a European night to remember", says the Daily Mail.
"Liverpool have an excellent record in the second legs of European semi-finals, particularly at Anfield, where they have won their last seven and conceded just one goal. Their fans will be needed to create an electric European atmosphere if they are to keep up their record, just as they were when Borussia Dortmund visited."
Once again, Klopp faces a "selection dilemma" over Daniel Sturridge, says the Times. "He must decide whether he needs the forward's firepower as Liverpool look to overturn a deficit or whether it is better to repeat the compact team structure that prevented Villarreal from dominating at home."
But with Divock Origi out injured and the manager obviously unconvinced by the merits of Sturridge and fellow striker Christian Benteke, Brazilian Roberto Firmino is likely to start up front, says Alistair Tweedale of the Daily Telegraph.
The lack of an obvious spearhead in attack "is in some sense Liverpool's greatest strength", he argues. "With no single, obvious goal-scorer to rely upon, others step up and share the burden.
"There is a collectivity to this Liverpool side; an acknowledgement that the team is more important than any individual; an acceptance that there is no star player."
That spirit could pay off handsomely in Klopp's first season at Anfield. "Another successful comeback will deliver a second final for Klopp in only seven months as Liverpool manager, leaving the team one win away from a return to the Champions League," notes The Guardian.
However, while the Reds will benefit from the backing of the Kop, history is against them as Spanish clubs have a daunting record against the English in recent seasons.
"Of the last 18 European knockout ties between the two nations, only one has been won by the English team," says the Daily Mail. "It's not the best omen ahead of another Anglo-Spanish affair at Anfield on Thursday night as Liverpool take on Villarreal for a place in the Europa League final."