Villarreal’s entire turnover is worth about the same as Liverpool paid for Christian Benteke, their manager has claimed ahead of Thursday’s Europa League semi-final.
The Spanish side’s celebrations after a 1-0 first-leg result brought a rebuke from Jurgen Klopp, who warned them what to expect at a sold-out Anfield in the return.
Liverpool v Villarreal preview
Liverpool are aiming to reach their first European final for nine years
But on the eve of the second leg, boss Marcelino insisted Villarreal, who could fit half the town’s population into their 25,000-seat Madrigal home, are already doing well to keep pace with far richer opponents, who can afford to keep a £30m-plus striker on the bench.
“Liverpool as a club have an extraordinary squad of footballers when you consider Benteke cost 50m euros [£39.5m; Benteke’s actual cost was £32.5m] which equates to the whole turnover of Villarreal as a club,” he
“We come here full of hope, we are going to give everything we have got and we will enjoy ourselves. Our main aim is to be competitive. We feel we have the capabilities we can make it through to the final.”
And with Champions League qualification already assured via a fourth-placed La Liga finish, Marcelino reckons his players can relax and even thrive under the Anfield lights.
“This group of players needs to be proud of what they have achieved as we are already qualified for the Champions League,” he said.
“This is an occasion to be celebrated. In no way whatsoever will we be affected negatively by the atmosphere, if anything we will be affected positively and galvanised by it.
“We will suffer at moments in the game, we will find it tough but we can cause them trouble. The game will be decided by the team who are more assured at key moments in the game.
“I think we will see a different Liverpool tomorrow. They will try to press us further up the field. I think they may be a bit more direct than they were in Spain.
“I think we might possibly see a new system and a change in personnel. All those factors will not affect us in any way. We think we know how Liverpool can be dangerous to us and we also know where we can cause problems in their weaker areas.”