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Chukwueze benched as Dia leads Danjuma-less Villarreal’s attack against Liverpool

21:52 GMT+3 03/05/2022
Samuel Chukwueze of Nigeria and Villarreal.
The Nigeria international will start from the bench as the Yellow Submarine aim to overturn their deficit against Jurgen Klopp’s men

Villarreal have named their starting XI for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Liverpool, with Samuel Chukwueze named as a substitute.

The Nigeria international, who was on song in the Yellow Submarine’s 2-1 triumph over Alaves on Saturday, played for 75 minutes in the first leg before making way for Boulaye Dia in the 2-0 loss.

This time, manager Unai Emery has kept the 22-year-old on the bench alongside Cote d’Ivoire’s Serge Aurier and Algeria international Aissa Mandi.

Meanwhile, Senegal’s Dia will lead the Spaniards’ chase for goals alongside the returning Gerard Moreno, while Netherlands international of Nigerian heritage Arnaut Danjuma has been ruled out of this crunch fixture due to a muscle injury.

For Liverpool, Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita, Sadio Mane and Mali prospect Ibrahima Konate have been named in the Reds’ lineup for the clash billed for the Estadio de la Ceramica.

Former Cameroon international Joel Matip is among the English Premier League side’s named substitutes.

For the Spanish elite division side to fancy their chances of reaching the final where Manchester City or Real Madrid awaits, they must first overturn their 2-0 deficit, a task Emery confessed is tough. 

"Lifting a 2-0 is very difficult. We are working to make a good match, find answers in our game and try to get closer to them on the scoreboard. In Liverpool, the field factor was crucial and we would like it to be decisive here as well," he told the Villarreal website. 

"We want to achieve it and we will fight. They were superior in the first leg and have the result in their favour, but we are going to work to try to win on our pitch, to give joy to our fans.

"We must find excellence in our game. We have to do something that nobody has achieved this year: beat Liverpool by more than two goals. We must find more weaknesses than other teams have achieved. It will be difficult, but we are working and we will try to achieve it."

Chukwueze wrote himself into Champions League folklore when his late breakway finish sealed one of the competition's great modern upsets against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the quarter-final.

The Super Eagle came off the bench to finish a last-gasp counter-move that saw the visitors earn a 1-1 draw on the night and a 2-1 aggregate victory, to reach the last four of Europe's top knockout tier for only the second time.