Guillem Balague gives his verdict on Villarreal v Liverpool tie

Roberto Soldado

Liverpool and Villarreal will face each other in the Europa League this season.

Well-known Spanish football expert Guillem Balague has told Sky Sports that Liverpool are favourites against Villarreal in the Europa League this season.

Premier League outfit Liverpool have been drawn against Spanish side Villarreal in the semi-finals of the prestigious European competition.

The first leg of the tie will be played in Spain later this month, with the second leg to be held at Anfield next month.

Balague believes that Liverpool will head into the two-legged tie as favourites, and has also underlined the importance of former Tottenham Hotspur striker Roberto Soldado for Villarreal.

"They are a club who don't demand too much, the expectations aren't huge and players love playing there,” Balague told Sky Sports about Villarreal. "But now they've got to a point where they've got to show if they've got what it takes to get to the next level, to show if they can consistently play in European competitions at this stage.

"But Liverpool are favourites in my mind, but let's remember they made their lives very difficult against Borussia Dortmund, and there are not always miracles.

"If Villarreal can control the game and counter attack, they will be dangerous. Individually, they are stronger than Liverpool, but I get the feeling Liverpool have found a dynamic, a mental strength to see them through.”

"He's different to the Roberto Soldado who was here in England, the one who didn't pass and didn't score,” added Balague. "Before he went to Spurs he was a goalscorer, now he helps more with assists. He drops deeper, and helps others to score.”

Soldado has scored five goals and created 26 chances in 26 La Liga appearances for Villarreal so far this season.

The former Tottenham striker has scored two goals and created 15 chances in 11 Europa League matches for the Yellow Submarine this campaign.

Liverpool will fancy their chances of winning the tie and playing the second leg at home will certainly help, but the Merseyside outfit should not underestimate the strength of a Villarreal team who are currently fourth in La Liga.

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