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Villarreal CF will hope that PFC Levski Sofia's woeful record on Spanish soil will continue in the opening game of their UEFA Europa League Group G campaign as coach Ratko Dostanić looks to raise the Bulgarian side's spirits.
• Villarreal have never met a Bulgarian side before, but will take encouragement from the fact that Levski have lost on all six of their previous competitive trips to Spain, conceding 18 goals – an average of three a game – and scoring just one in reply.
• The Yellow Submarine head into this game on the back of their biggest European victory, a 6-1 trouncing of NAC Breda in the UEFA Europa League play-off second leg, in which Giuseppe Rossi scored two penalties.
• Villarreal are unbeaten in ten home games since NK Maribor of Slovenia surprisingly earned a 2-1 win at El Madrigal in the 2006 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round.
• Levski – who take their name from Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levski – have won just one of their last ten European away ties, beating UE Sant Julià 5-0 in this season's UEFA Champions League second qualifying round.
• Having won the Greek title with Olympiacos FC last season, Ernesto Valverde took over at Villarreal this summer after his predecessor, Manuel Pellegrini, became Real Madrid CF boss. The former RCD Espanyol, FC Barcelona and Athletic Club Bilbao winger was nicknamed 'Txingurri' (The Ant, in Basque) for his modest stature and prodigious workrate.
• Valverde cruised through the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage as coach of Espanyol, reaching the final only to lose out to Sevilla FC on penalties after a 2-2 draw in Glasgow. He had previously been on the losing side as a player with the same club in the 1987/88 final after Bayer 04 Leverkusen came back to cancel out a 3-0 first-leg deficit, before winning via spot-kicks.
• Levski are coached by Serbian trainer Dostanić, a former defender who spent his whole career in France, representing the likes of SM Caen and Le Mans UC 72. He then served his coaching apprenticeship as assistant to Slavoljub Muslin at Levski and FK Crvena Zvezda before going it alone. Since 2003 he has coached ten clubs in five different countries.
• Dostanić has yet to win an away game in UEFA club competition, overseeing three draws and three defeats with FK Obilić, FK Smederevo and Levski.
• Levski's naturalised Brazilian left-back Lucio Wagner has some experience of Spanish football, having played for Sevilla FC in the 1997/98 season.
• Valverde may remember Levski's French winger Cédric Bardon as a member of the Anorthosis Famagusta FC side that sensationally eliminated his Olympiacos outfit in last season's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round 3-1 on aggregate.
• S.S. Lazio visit Levski on Matchday 2, while FC Salzburg are at home against Villarreal on the same night, 1 October.
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