Mighty Red Machine all set to sink The Yellow Submarine
Football has never been associated with music particularly. But Liverpool can arguably lay claim to the unofficial title of being the only city in the world that has found global prominence with the pair combined.
The Beatles, widely regarded as the most influential act of the rock era along with Liverpool FC, one of the most successful English football club is the sole reason why a small city in the northwest of England is known worldwide. So it’s only apt that Liverpool finds Villarreal, a Spanish club nicknamed after one of the most popular tracks by the Fab Four, in between themselves and their first European final in almost a decade.
Tonight, (Friday Midnight PST), The Yellow Submarines (El Submarino Amarillo) play host to the Mighty Reds, in what is sure to be a cracker of a game at Estadio El Madrigal, for the first leg of the Europa League semi-final tie.
Now while the thrilling comeback against Borussia Dortmund, a match which shall now forever be etched in Liverpool folklore, will always be close to my heart. It was simply means to an end.
A night never to be forgotten ! #LFCBVB
— Cine Sardar (@CineSardar) April 14, 2016
The bullet header off the head of Croatian defender Dejan Lovren nestling into the back of the net, deep in stoppage time, was one of those ‘I witnessed that’ moments that is sure to stay with me the rest of my life. But of course, there is unfinished business here. As the Croat so rightly pointed out right at the end of his post-match interview,
“It’s not over yet!”
Just like in 2005, a back-from-the-dead victory against Olympiakos was simply a precursor to the ‘Miracle of Istanbul.’ Similarly the round of eight triumphs against the Germans should only be remembered as a forerunner to us lifting the Europa League trophy at St Jakob Park in the final, and Villarreal provides the immediate obstacle.
El Submarino Amarillo has never competed against Liverpool in an official match. However, if we are to record a win against our Spanish opponents in our first ever encounter, it is surely going to be a tall order with several key personnel including skipper Jordan Henderson, midfield maestro Emre Can and hotshot striker Divock Origi all missing through injuries .
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, however remains optimistic about his side’s chances and does not think their injury concerns will be a major obstacle.
“Momentum is not about having the best squad ready to play. Momentum is to be ready to fight,”
Klopp was quoted talking at the pre-match press conference.
The big question remains, who will play in defence in the place of Mamadou Sakho since he is ineligible for selection, pending UEFA’s doping investigation.
Kolo Toure is willing to take charge, but the 35-year-old Ivorian has already played a full game against Newcastle on Saturday. Lucas, on the other hand, was rested for most of the contest, so there is a high likelihood that we’ll get to see him partnering previous round’s match winner Dejan Lovren at centre-back.
Villarreal’s coach Marcelino in stark contrast can almost call upon a fully fit squad with Leo Baptistao, the only player doubtful for the encounter.
The Yellow Submarines will definitely pose a difficult test for the Mighty Reds. Wins against Real and Atlético and a draw against Barcelona in La Liga this season is a testament to the fact that they are no mugs when it comes to playing top team.
But Liverpool is no ordinary big team. We are European heavyweights, with our record of five European and three UEFA cups; a big proof of our royal status in continental competitions.
Potential Liverpool Line-Up: (4-2-3-1)
Clyne, Lovren, Lucas, Moreno
Lallana, Firmino, Coutinho
Potential Villareal Line-Up: (4-4-2)
Mario, Bailly, Ruiz, Rukavina
Suarez, Castillejo, Bruno, Trigueros
Form Guide (Last 10 games)
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