Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool might’ve left it a little close for comfort drawing their second leg 3-3 against SL Benfica in the Champions League quarter-finals, but they progressed 6-4 on aggregate having won the first leg in Portugal 3-1. They will go on to face Villarreal, who knocked out Bayern Munich 2-1 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw in the second leg at the Allianz Arena in what was the shock of this stage of the competition.
Klopp is no stranger to either Villarreal or Unai Emery. In his first season in charge of Liverpool after taking over for Brendan Rodgers, Klopp led his side to the League Cup final and the Europa League final, which they ultimately lost 3-1 to Sevilla, who Emery managed at the time. En route to the final in Basel, Switzerland, Liverpool had knocked out Villarreal in the semifinals 3-1 on aggregate. Of course, since then, it’s a new-look Villarreal side under Emery that shocked Bayern of the course of two legs to reach the semifinals of the Champions League.
Klopp recently admitted that is was “impressive” for Villarreal to have knocked out Bayern, but said that he’ll need “a bit of time to prepare properly” for the two semifinal legs to come (Mirror). “If I could do an analysis of Villarreal right now that would be very strange. I saw the results, the game was very impressive. “I only picked up pieces, but to beat Juventus and Bayern Munich they deserve to be in the Champions League semifinals. Unai Emery is the king of the cups, it is unbelievable what he is doing. But give me a bit of time to prepare it properly,” Klopp explained.
Unlike Bayern, after their 3-1 win in Portugal, Liverpool never really looked out of control in their tie against Benfica aside from the two late goals they scored to make for a relatively nervy conclusion to the second leg at Anfield. Klopp had made seven changes to the starting eleven that was fielded for the 2-2 league draw at Manchester City, with one eye one this weekend’s FA Cup semifinal at Wembley against Pep Guardiola’s side. “The day we qualify for the Champions League semifinal and I’m not happy please come and knock me out. We made seven changes. the situation was the last line had never played together and it was about details, staying 100 percent concentrated,” he said, rejecting the notion that he fielded a weakened team, blowing caution to the win against Benfica.