Villarreal will look to make a positive start in UEFA Europa League Group A as they face a reunion with Astana, a side they beat three years ago.
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This week, football fans watching UEFA Europa League matches in stadiums, online and on TV will witness the premiere of the new UEFA RESPECT TV ads, called #EqualGame. The adverts feature Ada Hegerberg, Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Cristiano Ronaldo and amateur players and will run throughout the season to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility in European Football with the motto "Everyone has the right to enjoy football, no matter who you are, where you're from, or how you play." More information on the campaign and on the advertisements can be found in the accompanying media release and on the campaign website: www.equalgame.com.
Villarreal will look to make a positive start in UEFA Europa League Group A as they face a reunion with Astana, a side they beat comprehensively three years ago.
• The teams met in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League play-offs, Marcelino's Villarreal winning 3-0 against Stanimir Stoilov's men in Astana and 4-0 in Spain. That home loss is the heaviest in Astana's European history.
• The line-ups for the last meeting in Villarreal on 28 August 2014 were:
Villarreal: Juan Carlos, Gaspar*, Pina, Musacchio, Vietto, Trigueros* (Bruno Soriano* 46), Jaume Costa* (Marín* 56), Moi Gómez (Leiva 64), Gabriel, Moreno, Espinosa.
Astana: Loginovski, Dmitrenko, Kéthévoama (Kojašević 77), Beysebekov*, Nuserbayev (Essame 62), Twumasi* (Kurdov 71), Zhukov, Dzholchiyev, Postnikov*, Shomko*, Cañas.
*registered to play in 2017/18 UEFA Europa League
• Astana also faced Atlético Madrid in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League group stage, losing 4-0 in the Spanish capital and drawing 0-0 in Kazakhstan. They have thus conceded a combined eight unanswered goals in two trips to Spain, and have yet to win or score in four encounters with Liga sides.
• Villarreal have lost three of their last five European home games, most recently a 4-0 reverse to Roma in last season's UEFA Europa League round of 32 – their heaviest European home defeat to date.
• Kazakh champions Astana have won just one of their last 16 European away matches (W1 D5 L10), triumphing 1-0 at Spartaks Jūrmala in this season's UEFA Champions League second qualifying round.
• Semi-finalists in 2015/16 when they lost out to Liverpool, Villarreal are featuring in a fourth consecutive UEFA Europa League group stage, having progressed safely in each of the last three.
• Villarreal share with Anderlecht the record of getting through the UEFA Europa League group stage five times. No team have played (54) or won more games in the UEFA Europa League proper (group stage to final) or scored more goals (93).
• Beaten by Celtic in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, Astana are playing group-stage football for a third successive season: UEFA Champions League in 2015/16, UEFA Europa League in 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Links and trivia
• The journey from Astana to Villarreal is around 5,500km.
• Astana's Marin Tomasov joined 1860 München in 2012, just as Villarreal's Antonio Rukavina was leaving the club for Real Valladolid.
• Villarreal coach since 2016, Fran Escribá was a youth player at Valencia before making his name assisting Quique Sánchez Flores during spells at Getafe, Valencia, Benfica and Atlético. He coached Elche and Getafe outright before taking the Villarreal job.
• Hired in 2014, Stanimir Stoilov has led Astana to three successive Kazakh titles. The former Bulgaria player and coach enjoyed his most fruitful years as a player at Levski Sofia, whom he later guided to two championships – and the 2005/06 UEFA Cup quarter-finals.