Lyon v Villarreal background
Hosts of the 2018 final, Lyon face a difficult task in the round of 32 as they take on the team with most wins and most goals in the UEFA Europa League’s nine-season history, Villarreal.
• The French club, who reached the 2016/17 semi-finals, qualified for this season’s knockout phase as runners-up of Group E, behind Atalanta; their Spanish opponents ensured a fourth successive appearance at this stage of the competition by topping Group A.
• Both teams came through with 11 points, having won three matches, drawn two and lost one, the sole defeat coming in each case on matchday six after qualification had already been secured.
• This is the first time that the two clubs have crossed paths in UEFA competition.
• Lyon are familiar with other Spanish opposition, however, having played 30 matches against them. Their overall record is W9 D8 L13, but at home it is a favourable W6 D4 L5, three of those wins coming against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League. Their only previous meeting with a Spanish club at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais, against Sevilla in last season’s UEFA Champions League group stage, ended in a goalless draw.
• Villarreal have considerably less experience against French opposition and are yet to face a Ligue 1 club in the UEFA Europa League or UEFA Cup. In four UEFA Champions League matches they have scored just two goals, most recently losing home (1-2) and away (0-1) to Monaco in the 2016/17 play-offs.
• Lyon are unbeaten at home in eight European fixtures (W6 D2). That run includes four straight victories in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, including a competition-record 7-1 win against AZ Alkmaar in last season’s round of 32. Their 11-2 aggregate triumph in that tie also constitutes a competition high.
• Lyon have kept only one clean sheet in eight UEFA Europa League home knockout fixtures. However, they have scored 22 goals in those games and won six of them, losing just once.
• The French side’s only European defeat in ten matches in their new stadium came against Juventus (0-1) on matchday three of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League.
• This is Lyon’s fourth appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 32. They lost the first of the previous three ties, against Tottenham in 2012/13, but have been successful on each of the last two occasions, defeating Chornomorets Odesa 1-0 on aggregate in 2013/14 and AZ (11-2) last term.
• Lyon were UEFA Europa League semi-finalists last season, when they lost to Ajax having transferred from the UEFA Champions League group stage. They ensured a return to this season’s group stage by finishing fourth in Ligue 1.
• Villarreal are unbeaten in seven European away matches, winning three of them including each of the last two. The only defeat they have suffered in their last 13 UEFA Europa League fixtures on the road (W5 D7) came in the 2015/16 semi-final, when they were beaten 3-0 – and eliminated – by Liverpool at Anfield. They also reached the last four in 2010/11, losing to Porto.
• The Spanish club are featuring in a fourth consecutive UEFA Europa League knockout phase, having extended their perfect record of qualifying from the group stage to six out of six – a competition record.
• Villarreal have been successful in all eight of their UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League group stage participations. They have only progressed beyond the round of 32 four times out of seven, however, losing 4-1 on aggregate to Roma at this stage in 2016/17.
• Villarreal reached this season’s UEFA Europa League group stage by finishing fifth in the 2016/17 Spanish Liga.
Links and trivia
• Lyon’s Pape Cheikh Diop faced Villarreal once during his time with Celta Vigo (2015–17) – as a second-half substitute in a 5-0 away defeat on 16 October 2016.
• This season’s UEFA Europa League final, on 16 May 2018, will be staged in Lyon’s home stadium.
• Villarreal hold the UEFA Europa League group stage to final records for most games played (60), most wins (33) and most goals scored (103). They are the only club to have reached a century of goals in the competition.
• Born in Lyon, Bruno Génésio came through the club’s ranks as a midfielder, playing for the senior side from 1985 to 1995 before seeing out his career for one season at Martigues. He returned to the club’s coaching staff in 2007 and served as assistant boss for four years before taking sole command in December 2015 when he replaced Hubert Fournier.
• Javier Calleja took over as Villarreal’s new coach after Fran Escribá’s dismissal on 25 September 2017. He represented the club as a player from 1999–2006, having started out at academy level with Real Madrid, and returned as a youth coach after hanging up his boots. He was coaching the B team, a position he had held for five years, when he was promoted to the top job.