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Villarreal out to build on bright start

Villarreal CF welcome Celtic FC to El Madrigal hoping to build on their opening draw at Manchester United FC – and bring further discomfort to opponents known for their travel sickness in the UEFA Champions League.

Villarreal's Ángel López (right) in action against Nani on Matchday 1
Villarreal's Ángel López (right) in action against Nani on Matchday 1 ©Getty Images

Villarreal CF will look to build on their encouraging opening-day draw with Manchester United FC when they resume their Group E campaign at home to Celtic FC on Matchday 2.

• The Spanish Liga side performed impressively in holding United to a goalless draw at Old Trafford, where the UEFA Champions League holders had previously recorded 12 consecutive victories in the competition.

• After beginning their 2005/06 run to the semi-finals with a stalemate against United, the point gained in Manchester augurs well for Villarreal but they will want to add another three by beating a Celtic side who collected neither a point nor a goal away from home in the competition last term.

• The Scottish champions certainly suffered a frustrating start this time around, drawing 0-0 with Aalborg BK in Glasgow. It did not help that visiting goalkeeper Karim Zaza saved Barry Robson's 30th-minute penalty and the eventual stalemate ended a run of six successive group stage home wins for the Glasgow club.

• Villarreal have a strong home record in UEFA club competition. They were undefeated at El Madrigal in the UEFA Cup last season, recording three wins and a draw prior to their away-goals elimination by FC Zenit St. Petersburg in the Round of 32.

• During their run to the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League semi-finals, meanwhile, Manuel Pellegrini's team recorded three wins and four draws, including the third qualifying round.

• Celtic's travel sickness in the UEFA Champions League has been well documented and not since November 2004 – and a 1-1 draw at FC Barcelona – have they avoided defeat in an away match in the tournament proper.

• Discounting a 1-1 draw at FC Spartak Moskva in the third qualifying round, Celtic did not register a single goal on their travels in Europe last season as they lost four straight games in the group stage and first knockout round. They also suffered four successive away defeats in the 2006/07 campaign.

• Villarreal emerged victorious from the teams' one previous encounter at El Madrigal in the 2003/04 UEFA Cup quarter-finals on 14 April 2004.

• After playing out a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park six days earlier – Henrik Larsson cancelling out Josico's first-half opener – they reconvened in Villarreal where the home side, in their first season of European competition, secured their progress to the semi-finals through goals from Sonny Anderson (6) and Roger Garcia (68).

• The full lineups that night were:
Villarreal: Pepe Reina, Rodolfo Arruabarrena, Juliano Belletti, Fabricio Coloccini, Sergio Ballesteros, Josico, Roger García, Sebastián Battaglia, Juan Román Riquelme, José Mari (Javi Venta), Sonny Anderson.
Celtic: David Marshall, Jackie McNamara, Joos Valgaeren, Dianbobo Balde, Stanislav Varga, Didier Agathe, Neil Lennon, Stilian Petrov, Liam Miller (James Smith), Stephen Pearson (Ross Wallace), Henrik Larsson.

• The only other Scottish team Villarreal have faced are Celtic's great rivals Rangers FC, whom they defeated on away goals in the first knockout round of the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League. After a 2-2 first-leg draw in Glasgow, Rodolfo Arruabarrena's 49th-minute strike cancelled out Peter Løvenkrands' early effort for the visitors and sent Villarreal into the last eight.

• Overall, Celtic have an unhappy record on Spanish soil, recording seven defeats and three draws in ten previous UEFA club competition matches there. In addition, Celtic lost the 2002/03 UEFA Cup final in Seville, going down 3-2 to FC Porto.

• On their most recent visit to Spain last season, Celtic lost 1-0 to FC Barcelona to confirm a 4-2 aggregate loss in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round.

• Villarreal midfielder Edmílson featured as a substitute for former club Barcelona in that 1-0 win against Celtic. He was also in the Olympique Lyonnais team that ended the Scottish side's UEFA Champions League hopes in 2003/04.

• Celtic manager Gordon Strachan was in the Aberdeen FC side that defeated Real Madrid CF 2-1 in the final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1983.

• Celtic's squad includes Spanish midfielder Marc Crosas, signed from FC Barcelona during the close season.

• The other Group E game on Matchday 2 pits AaB against Manchester United.