Charlie Nicholas states bold prediction for Liverpool v Villarreal

Charlie Nicholas is backing Villarreal to reach the Europa League final ahead of Liverpool

Charlie Nicholas is tipping Liverpool to beat Villarreal at Anfield but the La Liga side to qualify for the Europa League final on the away goals rule.

The Reds suffered a 1-0 defeat by the Yellow Submarine last week after Adrian Lopez scored an added-time winner against Jurgen Klopp’s side at Estadio El Madrigal.

Liverpool suffered a resounding 3-1 defeat by Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday afternoon as the youngest-ever Reds side in the Premier League struggled against the Welsh side.

Former Arsenal playmaker Nicholas reckons Liverpool’s good form is coming to end and he can’t envisage the 18-time English champions keeping a clean sheet in the second leg on Thursday night.

“Liverpool have lost their way over the last few games and I thought it was another missed opportunity with Jurgen Klopp not playing a striker in Villarreal,” Nicholas told Sky Sports.

Nicholas added: “Villarreal are clever and tricky and they’ll be looking to pick Liverpool off on the counter-attack with Cedric Bakambu’s pace, especially with Kolo Toure in there in Mamadou Sakho’s absence.

“I think if Klopp plays Sturridge then I think they’ll go through but I think he might try to be a bit too clever again and leave him to come off the bench.”

Liverpool were the only side to make it from the start of the group stage to matchday 12 unbeaten.

However, following the first leg, it is Villarreal who are now 12 games without defeat.

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The Reds are bidding to win Europe’s second-tier competition for the first time since 2001.

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