Liverpool are immense but we can go through - Villarreal's Roberto Soldado

Villarreal striker Roberto Soldado is well aware of the attacking threat that Liverpool will pose in the clubs' upcoming Europa League semifinal, but believes his team have the defensive strength to cope in Thursday's first leg.

The Spanish side beat Sparta Prague in the last eight to set up the semi against Liverpool, whose astonishing comeback to beat Borussia Dortmund 5-4 on aggregate was the biggest shock of the competition so far.

Liverpool have recovered well from a lacklustre start to their season and manager Jurgen Klopp appears to be having a positive impact, with the team's performances much improved in recent months.

Those improvements haven't gone unnoticed on the east coast of Spain, with Soldado certainly not underestimating Liverpool.

"We know it won't be easy; they've improved under Jurgen Klopp," Soldado said in an interview with Sid Lowe in The Guardian. "They have great quality in attack. They're an immense club, but we've been strong defensively, conceding very few at El Madrigal.

"This season isn't chance. We've beaten big teams here. If we can be successful against Madrid [both Real and Atletico lost at the ground], then why not Liverpool? It'll be very competitive, tight, but we're convinced we can go through.

"It's a historic moment and it's good that people think Liverpool are favourites, but this is no one-off, it's not chance.

"Villarreal reached the Champions League semi 10 years ago and although they had a difficult year, going down [in 2012], they came straight back," Soldado added. "Since then we've got into the Europa League twice running, and we're trying to return to the Champions League.

"Villarreal have been stopped at the gates three times [in 2004, 2006 and 2011 European semifinals]. Hopefully we can take a step further this time."

The Yellow Submarines are fourth in La Liga and four points clear of their closest challengers in the race for the final Champions League qualification spot. Defence has been the key for the club's success, with only Atletico Madrid and Barcelona conceding fewer goals, but Soldado has also been a key part of a dangerous front line.

The Spain international moved to Villarreal from Tottenham Hotspur last summer after a spell in England that saw his goal-scoring touch desert him, finding the net just seven times in 50 Premier League appearances.

"I had the chance to come here and start again, which was what I needed: to play where there was not quite as much pressure, where I could work in peace, where the dressing room was down to earth with a desire to grow together, working to achieve something."

And Soldado also explained how his role on the pitch has changed since his return to La Liga.

"At Valencia, we played with a No. 9 and a No. 10. Here, we play 4-4-2 and one of us needs to drop between the lines. That's become the job I do. [Cedric] Bakambu is very powerful and loves to run in to the space, so I play the other role: you have to complement your partner.

"I'm enjoying my football, but it's also true that I've spent my entire career as a No. 9, scoring goals... and that's what I love. I have to find a middle ground.

"Cedric and I are both playing well, the coach is happy, but he wants me to score goals. I blame myself, I'm critical, I demand more. I'm comfortable further from the area, taking part, combining, but I need that aggression to get into the area."

If Soldado's Villarreal manage to get past Liverpool over two legs then they will be one game away from claiming the club's first European title.

And a Europa League triumph would also guarantee a place in next season's Champions League -- and a potential draw against Tottenham.

"I hope [that happens]," Soldado added. "I'd love to go back."