May 06, 2016

Among the four finalists vying for continental glory in the Champions League and Europa League, three are from Spain.

And then there is Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp has revitalised the once-proud Reds, who are one step away from reaching the Champions League but first must finish up Premier League play with three matches in eight days, starting with Sunday's visit by Watford to Anfield.

Liverpool ensured a May 18 trip to Basel to face two-time defending champions Sevilla in a high-stakes Europa League final. Neither team has qualified domestically for the Champions League, and that's the prize for the club that lifts the trophy at St. Jakob-Park.

Klopp's side overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit with Thursday's resounding 3-0 win over 10-man Villarreal in front of an Anfield crowd who were in full voice. An own goal leveled the aggregate score in the seventh minute before Daniel Sturridge scored in the 63rd to put Liverpool ahead for good, and Adam Lallana put the tie to bed with a tally in the 81st.

It's the fourth straight year Klopp has reached a Cup final. He lost the previous three with Borussia Dortmund, falling in the 2013 Champions League to Bayern Munich, the 2014 German Cup to the same opponents and last year's German Cup to Wolfsburg.

Now he hopes to finally claim a title.

''There are lots of teams who want to go to finals. It's not too easy,'' Klopp said. ''So now we are there and it's a great opportunity and we will take it.''

Opposing Klopp this weekend is a manager who won the Europa League title with Atletico Madrid in 2010 in Quique Sanchez Flores. Flores' side knocked out Liverpool in the semifinals that campaign, surviving despite a 2-1 defeat in extra time in the second leg in Anfield.

"I know how it is to play an Anfield," Flores told Watford's official website. "I went there with Atletico Madrid five or six years ago in the semi-final of the Europa League."

The Hornets handed Klopp his worst defeat as Liverpool boss with a 3-0 victory at Vicarage Road on Dec. 20. Nathan Ake scored a third-minute opener before Odion Ighalo's brace.

Said Klopp afterward: "Hopefully it is the most disappointing moment in my whole Liverpool FC life from now on."

That has held true, and the boss is expected to ring the changes for this match as he manages a busy stretch that includes Wednesday's visit by Chelsea and a trip to West Bromwich Albion before the Reds' decisive trip to the city best known as the home of tennis superstar Roger Federer.

Liverpool's Premier League form was indifferent in last Sunday's 3-1 defeat at Swansea City while Watford staged a last-gasp 3-2 victory over relegated Aston Villa that day when Troy Deeney scored a tying goal in the 90th minute and added the winner three minutes later.

Ighalo and Deeney have combined for 25 of Watford's 36 league goals.

Watford have a victory and defeat in two Premier League trips to Anfield, with Tommy Mooney's goal giving the Hornets a famous 1-0 victory Aug. 14, 1999. That represented the first Premier League points for Watford, who were relegated that season by finishing rock bottom with 24.

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