When the Champions League quarter-finals and semi-finals draws were made, the expectation was that if Liverpool beat Benfica they would be facing the very real threat of Bayern Munich before they could think about booking their tickets to Paris for the final. A few weeks later, here we are scrapping all notes written about the German champions and replacing them with Villarreal.
Unai Emery’s men – who qualified for this season’s Champions League after beating Manchester United in the Europa League final – have been the surprise dark horses in the competition. They are in the semi-final on merit though, getting past European giants Juventus and Bayern Munich in the two knockout rounds thus far.
The one-time Europa League and two-time Intertoto Cup winners have only once been in the Champions League semi-final in the past – in the 2005/06 season, when they got knocked out by Arsenal 1-0 on aggregate. So it is clear to see that a club with such a small budget and representing a small city in Spain is punching well above its weight this season. Credit to Emery for that.
The rest of this article is for TTT Subscribers only. Sign up below for £5 a month.