Robert Pires explains how Villarreal can shock Liverpool and crush quadruple hopes

Liverpool train ahead of Villarreal clash

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Former Villarreal winger Robert Pires believes his old team has what it takes to shock Liverpool and end their quadruple dreams. Liverpool take a 2-0 lead to Estadio de la Ceramica for the second leg of the Champions League semi-final this evening.

An own goal from Pervis Estupinan and a Sadio Mane strike in the space of two minutes put Jurgen Klopp’s side firmly in control. The Reds are overwhelming favourites to qualify for the final and play either Real Madrid or Manchester City in Paris on May 28.

However, Pires is not ruling Unai Emery’s side out of causing a huge upset. Villarreal have participated in one Champions League semi-final before, with Pires on the opposition as Arsenal beat the Spanish side in 2006.

But the Gunners did not find it easy despite taking a 1-0 lead to the away leg and only progressed thanks to a Jens Lehmann penalty save in the dying minutes. Pires is backing Unai Emery’s side to produce a similar performance but admits they need luck on their side.

He told AS: “This team is not eliminated, far from it. I played a semi-final with Arsenal and we also had an advantage, so we hoped to get through without suffering.

“And the reality was very different. Of course Villarreal can go through.

“We know how complicated it is, we cannot deny that. We know the level of Liverpool and their quality, they are very good and very strong, but Villarreal has not said the last word.

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“For me, Liverpool is the best in Europe at the moment and that makes it a great challenge. For this reason, Villarreal, which is a very solid team, suffered a lot in the first leg.

“But they came out alive, and knowing Emery and the quality of this team, I wouldn’t be comfortable. 2-0 is a very good result, but a lot can still happen.

“They must also get a bit of luck… We know that these comebacks must have that point of fortune to turn the tie around.

“Hopefully Villarreal reach the final in Paris. That is my wish, I would very much like it to happen.”

Liverpool are set to face a hostile atmosphere as they step out on the Ceramica turf. And Pires has a message for the Villarreal supporters in how they can play their part.

He added: “I tell people that if the player feels that the fans are with you and push, anything is possible. Now you see that there is a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of union between the team and the people, and that gives you a lot of strength to be able to fight.”

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