Anfield holds the key for a successful European adventure

Liverpool are unbeaten at home in the Europa League this season

The Europa League final is within Liverpool's grasp. They will not be disheartened by a 1-0 defeat away to Villarreal last week's semi-final opening leg.

They were punished last week for not taking their chances and were stung right at the death by a well taken Adrian Lopez goal, but their home record in the competition is almost impeccable. To overturn a one-goal deficit at Anfield shouldn't be too challenging.

Jurgen Klopp's men opened their campaign with a 1-0 win over Beşiktaş, before suffering defeat in an exact reverse of the fixture.

They found it difficult to find their rhythm at after consecutive 1-1 draws with Sion, Bordeaux and Rubin Kazan, before a 1-0 away win over the Russians.

It seems that the influence Anfield has on the fixtures has grown more in the knockout stage of the competition. Whether or not to their detriment, Liverpool have struggled away from home in the latter stages of the tournament, failing to pick up a victory in four attempts.

Their scoreless draw away to Germans Augsburg was atoned after a routine 1-0 win at home. Klopp's first taste of the Manchester United/Liverpool rivalry came at Anfield, where a fiery performance saw them run out convincing 2-0 winners over Louis van Gaal's side.

In the build-up Klopp had called it "the mother of all games" and, aside from the despicable chanting from certain segments of supporters, the fans certainly had a bearing on the game. Ceaseless singing, cheering and booing created a cacophony of sounds that would have unnerved any opposition. The result, coupled with a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford proved enough to book a quarter-final berth with Jurgen Klopp's old side.

This influence was none more evident than Borussia Dortmund's trip to Anfield. Liverpool's Europa League campaign was reading like a script, football journalists around Europe were salivating at the idea of an emotional return to the Westfalenstadion.

Their draw there meant it was all to play for in the return leg on Merseyside. Among the choruses of "You'll Never Walk Alone" sung passionately by both sets of fans, the Reds produced a performance that ranks among their greatest in European club competition. Three goals in the last 25 minutes, including an injury time winner, sent the stadium into delirium. 

If Leicester City fans created a mini-earthquake with their late winner over Norwich this season, the seismic shift coming from Liverpool's achievement was sure to send shockwaves around Europe.

Villarreal travel to Merseyside tonight knowing full well the challenge they face. Whatever Liverpool's shortcomings in the knockout stage of the competition away from home, Klopp's men look a different proposition at Anfield.

It's also an emotional night for the Reds as tonight will be Liverpool's first home game since the Hillsborough inquest verdict was announced, with Villarreal fans having made their own tribute to their opponents on the week of the verdict.