Klopp insists Reds will get their 'mojo' back, beat Villarreal

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp at the end of the match between Villarreal and Liverpool, on April 28, 2016.
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp at the end of the match between Villarreal and Liverpool, on April 28, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has vowed that his side will rediscover their "mojo" in time for tonight's Europa League semi-final second leg at home to Spanish opponents Villarreal.

After their 1-0 first-leg defeat last week, he saw a much-changed side beaten 3-1 by Swansea City on Sunday, and goes into the biggest game of his seven-month tenure on the back of the first losing streak of his Anfield reign.

Liverpool have now gone three games without victory in all competitions, but he is confident that they will rediscover their poise when the moment comes.

Following the defeat by Swansea, he told the Liverpool website: "We have to recover, which is very important, and we will play much, much better than we did on Sunday.

"We have to accept the result, which is what we do, and then we work and we will be better on Thursday."

Seeking to reach a first continental final since the 2007 Champions League final, Liverpool approach the second leg needing to cancel out Villarreal's lead, but without exposing themselves on the counter.

With the defeat by Swansea having damaged their chances of qualifying for next season's Europa League via the Premier League, winning this season's competition, which will yield a place in next season's Champions League, has now taken on greater importance.

Klopp made eight changes for the trip to the Liberty Stadium and is expected to restore players, including goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, midfielder James Milner and forward Roberto Firmino, to his starting XI.

There is also a possibility that he will be able to call upon German midfielder Emre Can, who reportedly returned to training ahead of schedule on Monday after spraining ankle ligaments last month.

Liverpool remain without captain Jordan Henderson, whose season has been ended by a knee ligament injury, and central defender Mamadou Sakho, who has been provisionally suspended by Uefa after failing a drugs test.

Striker Divock Origi, who scored twice across the two legs against Dortmund, also remains sidelined with an ankle problem.

Villarreal travel to Liverpool full of confidence after securing a return to the Champions League for the first time in four years with a 2-0 win at Valencia in the Spanish Primera Liga on Sunday.

Coach Marcelino, whose club have never reached a major final, could even afford the luxury of making 10 changes at the Mestalla from the side that beat Klopp's men in the first leg.

He has a fully fit squad to choose from as Ivorian international Eric Bailly has overcome the hamstring injury he suffered in the first leg to travel with the rest of the squad.

"On Thursday we have the chance we have been waiting for all our lives," captain Bruno told the club's website.

"It is a step the club still haven't been able to take and we will face up to that challenge in the best way possible. We will be at 100 per cent to achieve this objective."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2016, with the headline 'Klopp insists Reds will get their 'mojo' back, beat Villarreal'. Print Edition | Subscribe