This was the type of game I would’ve loved to see in the first leg between these two teams. Villareal made it really difficult for Liverpool in the first 45 minutes and everything they tried worked well.
The tactics from Emery were great, as Villareal needed the energy to match Liverpool, and they came with that intensity to surprise Liverpool sometimes. Look at the way Capoue and Coquelin played in midfield. They used their experience from their time in the Premier League and both made sure they could add that to the game.
The penalty incident involving Alison and Lo Celso was and will always be a question. I know Allison’s momentum took him into Lo Celso but he had held off the ball for a second and that meant the call went in Liverpool’s favour and the penalty was waved away. If it went the other way and Villareal converted and found themselves three goals up that would have been a tougher mental mountain to climb in the second half for Liverpool.
We saw Klopp’s side come out in the second half as a different team though, and I saw why I like Klopp’s style of playing and thinking so much. He knew he had to match the energy to win this game and took off Jota and put on Diaz. They started dictating the tempo of the game and pushed Villarreal back.
Villareal had to adjust their way of playing because when you’re open and set up to attack it is hard to change it to a more defensive tactic for the second half. This is what happened and Liverpool started to dominate. Diaz’ way of playing was very direct and pushed the opponents back with his speed.
That is what Klopp could do to give his midfield more breathing space, and Diaz scored the important goal from an amazing cross that has become the normality for Trent Alexander Arnold. The two-goal aggregate lead was restored and this made Klopp take some players off to keep them ready for the next game. Klopp is always thinking about what is next even when he is in a big battle.
The quadruple is still on for Liverpool and we’ll see what silverware they can take back to Anfield over the next few weeks. #mmlove