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Having lost 2-1 in Rome on Matchday 3, Villarreal CF know they could easily be out of the UEFA Europa League if a home loss to S.S. Lazio coincides with FC Salzburg avoiding defeat at PFC Levski Sofia in the other Group G game.
• The sides met in Rome in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage, with Domenico Caso's Lazio coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw against Manuel Pellegrini's visitors.
• The teams for that match on 21 October 2004 were:-
Lazio: Sereni, Siviglia*, Dabo* (Giannichedda, 57), Zauri, Manfredini (Rocchi*, 46), Pandev, Liverani, Inzaghi, Oddo, Negro, Šerić (Di Canio, 66).
Villarreal: Reina, Rodríguez, Cazorla* (Josico, 77), Riquelme, Roger (Font, 73), Quique Álvarez, Venta*, Battaglia, José Mari, Arzo (Armando Sá, 87), Alcantara.
*eligible to play in this game.
• Villarreal have yet to lose in five European home games against Italian sides, with four straight wins – including a 2-0 triumph against Lazio's local rivals AS Roma – followed by a 1-1 draw with ACF Fiorentina in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup group stage.
• Lazio's six games in Spain have ended in five defeats and one victory – a 1-0 success against Club Atlético de Madrid in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup semi-finals. The aggregate score in those six matches is 20-9 to the home side, meaning Lazio have conceded an average of over three goals a match away against Liga teams.
• Villarreal are unbeaten in eleven European home games since a 2-1 loss to NK Maribor in the UEFA Intertoto Cup third round on 15 July 2006.
• Having won the Greek title with Olympiacos FC last term, Ernesto Valverde took over at Villarreal this summer after his predecessor, 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 work-rate.
• In three games against Italian clubs as coach of Athletic and Espanyol, Valverde earned three victories – two at home and one away.
• Valverde also played in the Espanyol side that eliminated AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano in successive rounds – the second and third – en route to finishing runners-up in the 1987/88 UEFA Cup. The loss in Rome on Matchday 3 was his first in eight games against a Serie A side as a coach or a player.
• Formerly a player at AC Cesena, Davide Ballardini took over as Lazio coach during the summer following the departure of Delio Rossi. He had previously been in charge at Cagliari Calcio before earning a number of fine results as boss of US Città di Palermo last season.
• Lazio's Argentinian defender Lionel Scaloni could meet team-mates from two former clubs: Joan Capdevila (RC Deportivo La Coruña, 2000-06) and Ariel Ibagaza (RCD Mallorca, 2008).
• Lazio's Eliseu (Málaga CF, 2007-09) and Matuzalem (Real Zaragoza, 2007-08) also have experience of Spanish football.
• Villarreal boast Italian talent in the form of United States-born striker Giuseppe Rossi, who started his career with Parma FC. Rossi and Lazio's Tommaso Rocchi were strike partners with Italy at the 2008 Olympic Games in China.
• Ballardini coached Rossi while he was a youth player at Parma, and said: "I met him when he was very young and was playing alongside other talents like Luca Cigarini and Daniele Dessena. He was already a good player with all the qualities you can now see in him."
• Villarreal won more corners in the first three group-stage games than any other side – 27.
• Lazio visit Salzburg on Matchday 5 while Villarreal travel to Bulgaria and an away tie at Levski on the same day, 2 December.
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