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Villarreal vs. Liverpool Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions, Preview, Best Bets: Live Wager, Player Prop Targeted in Champions League Semifinal (May 3)

Villarreal vs. Liverpool Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions, Preview, Best Bets: Live Wager, Player Prop Targeted in Champions League Semifinal (May 3) article feature image
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Peter Powell – Pool/Getty Images. Pictured: Liverpool stars Sadio Mané, left, and Mohamed Salah.

  • Villarreal hosts Liverpool in Tuesday's all-important second leg of their Champions League semifinal tie.
  • The Reds, who earned a 2-0 win against The Yellow Submarine in the opening contest, are heavy -145 moneyline favorites.
  • Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the contest below and details why he's found value on a live wager and player prop tied to Villarreal.

Villarreal vs. Liverpool Odds

Villarreal Odds +360
Liverpool Odds -145
Draw +310
Over/Under 2.5 (-145 / +115) 
Day | Time Tuesday | 3 p.m. ET
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Liverpool established overwhelming control of its Champions League tie in the opening leg with a 2-0 victory against Villarreal at Anfield last Wednesday in a match where the host outshot its opponent by a 20-1 margin.

The Reds just need to avoid two-goal defeat on the road in Spain in Tuesday’s reverse fixture to return to the UCL final for the third time since 2018.

Villarreal had a similar approach in its road match against Bayern Munich as it attempted to play out from the back, but repeatedly failed to get past Thiago and Fabinho in the center of the pitch. The Spanish club didn’t attempt a shot in the opening 45 minutes and managed just one half chance.

While the Yellow Submarine defended well for large stretches, especially in the opening half when the Reds failed to create big scoring chances or score — it was undone by two goals in three minutes. Now they have to come out and play more aggressively at home, which could leave them exposed against a team that will more space for its attackers to operate between the lines.

Villarreal Hoping to Deliver Another Miracle

Villarreal had a clear plan of attack to try to build from the back in the first leg. The Yellow Submarine pushed its center backs wider to create possession triangles on the wings to overcome Liverpool’s press and pass through it.

Once the players got there, they’d try to create space in the middle to push the ball through Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin. The problems came at that phase of build-up for manager Unai Emery’s side, when Thiago and Fabinho either won the ball or forced it back and forced go long over Virgil van Dijk.

Goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli and most of the back line were pretty good distribution wise on short to medium passes, but they combined to complete just 13 of 44 long passes. Liverpool had a 38.8% pressing success rate that contributed to all of the losses of possession.

The Yellow Submarine hasn’t been in this situation during its UCL run and I’m skeptical of its ability to play from behind. Villarreal was either tied or ahead in the second leg against Juventus and Bayern Munich, and didn’t have to come out of its low defensive-block approach. 

Even in the group stage de facto knockout match against Atalanta, Villarreal only needed a road draw and was able to sit deeper. The club has shown an ability in La Liga to press and possess opponents effectively, but it isn’t built for explosive attacking movements. It profiles more as a build-up team and that’s not going to work against a defense long enough to sustain pressure.

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Liverpool Has Big Edge in Reverse Fixture

Liverpool has now taken a two-goal lead into the second leg of both of its European knockout matches and taken its foot off the gas in them. The Reds struggled to create chances at home against Inter Milan and lost, 1-0, as the -180 moneyline favorite. It was still more than enough to go through once Inter went down to 10 men immediately following the goal.

The Reds rotated their squad for the second leg at home against Benfica and conceded three goals. They were once again quite overvalued as 1.5-goal favorites, with the match ending in a draw. Again, Liverpool wasn’t in danger of getting eliminated, but its defense was less sturdy in those situations.

The defense has generally run better than its expected goals against, but it has also had its best four-match run of the year in the last month. The Reds conceded one combined xG in the last four tilts — 0.1 to Manchester United; 0.5 to Everton; 0.2 to Newcastle United; and 0.2 to Villarreal, per fbref.com.

The Reds will have to deal with a more aggressive approach, but the healthy midfield of Thiago, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have been next-level dominant as a unit.

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Betting Analysis & Picks

My projection makes Liverpool -130 on the moneyline, so I don’t show any value in the line for either the side or the total. The Reds don’t need to win to advance and have the potential to be a bit flat because of it.

That said, I’ll be looking for a potential Villarreal live team total over 0.5 goals as the game progresses when it’s forced to apply more ball pressure and push numbers forward. I used this approach in the second leg of the Benfica match and the Portuguese side was able to create more chances as the game opened up later.

So, I’d expect this to occur, but also fear a more open game would only tilt the field further in Liverpool’s direction with its superior attacking talent.

One prop I’m playing is tied to Villarreal forward Arnaut Danjuma. He can find success between Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold, plus he has averaged 0.76 xG per 90 minutes in La Liga and 0.48 xG/90 minutes in UCL play this season.

Villarreal shots are likely to come via Danjuma and his total of Over 1.5 (+225) Shots on Target is worth a flier.

Picks: Arnaut Danjuma (Villarreal) — Over 1.5 Shots On Target (+225)

Villarreal — Live Team Total Over 0.5 Goals (-100 or better)

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