Liverpool may have disposed of Europa League favourites Borussia Dortmund in the previous round, but now Jurgen Klopp and his players now face another threatening side in yellow.
Quietly, very much under the radar, Villarreal have been one of the surprise teams in Europe and whilst they may not be as hyped as Leicester, once again The Yellow Submarine are producing miracles on a tiny budget.
Marcelino’s side are currently four points clear in fourth position in La Liga and are favourites for the final Champions League spot, following the big three title challengers in Spain.
In previous rounds of the Europa League, Villarreal have seen off Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen and Sparta Prague – they know how to see off big teams in this competition.
Allied with a consistent backline – Villarreal have conceded less goals this season than Real Madrid in La Liga – they have some attacking players who could do damage to a Liverpool side without Mamadou Sakho.
The French defender had become a key man for Liverpool in recent weeks and the Liverpool defence will have to be wary of former Spurs man Roberto Soldado and Villarreal’s goal scoring sensation Cedric Bakambu.
The Congo DR striker has emerged as a serious goal scorer for Villarreal this season, Bakambu has bagged 12 La Liga goals this season and has claimed eight of the last 12 goals scored by the Yellow Submarine in all competitions.
Typical of a side with their resources, Villarreal play a tight game and work as a team and will be keen not to concede any away goals to Liverpool.
Following the extraordinary events of Liverpool’s second leg win over Dortmund, Klopp will simply be keen to keep his side in the tie for the second leg.
You have to fear for Liverpool though as the spine of their side has been shorn in recent weeks. The team sent out at El Madrigal will definitely be without Sakho, Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and Divock Origi, all key players in recent weeks.
Nevertheless, Liverpool look very capable of going all the way in the Europa League and perhaps their hardest game will be against two-time winners Sevilla in the final?
Villarreal predicted starting XI to face Liverpool
Liverpool predicted starting XI to face Villarreal
101 Great Goals predicted score: Villarreal 1 – Liverpool 1.