Klopp: We must respect Villarreal

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has told his players to retain their focus as they prepare to face Villarreal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday.

The German tactician guided the Reds past his former club Borussia Dortmund in the previous round, but has urged his players to respect the Yellow Submarine and focus solely on the match at El Madrigal.

"It's important to understand that my players came to the semi-finals because they were always ready for the moment, they never thought about the next round," Klopp said ahead of the tie.

"It's important that I show the players the respect they earned and that means I don't have to speak to them about things. We didn't speak about this, we only spoke about the semi-final, or the next game in the Premier League.

"Nobody thinks we are halfway or something, we are here because we respect this tournament and we respect it in each round. It's not for talking about the final or Basel or something else.

"This is the highest level of football, [as] Villarreal shows each week. Big form in the Spanish league, playing with such good balance, very good structure in the game, very disciplined, good defending, good counter-attacks – if you let them, they play football.

"It's everything you need to be a good team and for a club in a small city in Spain that's great. They have made a lot of good decisions to be here and we should not hope that they will make only wrong decisions tomorrow. We have to be prepared for our best game and that's what we try to do."