Dinamo Zagreb will be looking to cause another upset as their first European quarter-final since 1970 pits them against competition stalwarts Villarreal.
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Thrilling conquerors of Tottenham Hotspur in the round of 16, Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb will be looking to cause another upset as their first European quarter-final in over half a century pits them against Spanish competition stalwarts Villarreal, who are competing in the last eight of the UEFA Europa League for the fourth time.
• Croatia's last remaining European representatives, Dinamo enjoyed a superb autumn in the UEFA Europa League, going unbeaten through Group K as they claimed 14 points to finish first ahead of Wolfsberg, Feyenoord and CSKA Moskva. In the round of 32 they saw off another Russian team, beating Krasnodar (3-2 a, 1-0 h), before dramatically overcoming a 0-2 first-leg deficit against Tottenham to win the home leg 3-0 after extra time thanks to a brilliant Mislav Oršić hat-trick.
• Villarreal cruised to first place in UEFA Europa League Group I ahead of Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Sivasspor and Qarabağ to reach the round of 32 for the eighth time before comfortably disposing of UEFA Champions League group stage participants Salzburg (2-0 a, 2-1 h) and Dynamo Kyiv (2-0 a, 2-0 h) in the first two knockout rounds, striker Gerard Moreno scoring doubles in both home legs.
• The teams have been drawn together just once before in UEFA competition, Vahid Halihodžić's Dinamo beating Juan Carlos Garrido's Villarreal 2-0 at home on Matchday 1 of the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League before the Spanish side won the reverse fixture 3-0 to seal their passage into the knockout phase, where they would go on to reach the semi-final. Dinamo, meanwhile, were eliminated after finishing third in the group.
• While those games remain Villarreal's only official matches against Croatian opposition, Dinamo have played ten UEFA games against Spanish clubs, losing eight of them, with that 2010 victory at home to Villarreal the solitary success. Their last four encounters with Liga clubs have all brought defeats in the UEFA Champions League group stage – against Real Madrid in 2011/12 (0-1 h, 2-6 a) and Sevilla in 2016/17 (0-1 h, 0-4 a).
• Dinamo romped to their record-extending 21st Croatian title last season, completing a hat-trick of 1. HNL triumphs. They also reached the UEFA Champions League group stage for the seventh time, finishing fourth in their section behind Manchester City, Atalanta and Shakhtar Donetsk with five points – their best return in the competition for 20 years.
• Dinamo began this European campaign under returning coach Zoran Mamić by overcoming hosts CFR Cluj on penalties in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, but then lost 2-1 at Ferencváros before defeating Flora of Estonia 3-1 at home in the UEFA Europa League play-offs to reach the group stage of the competition for the sixth time. As in 2018/19, they won four and drew two of their six games to top the group, getting the better of Feyenoord (0-0 h, 2-0 a), CSKA (0-0 a, 3-1 h) and fellow qualifiers Wolfsberg (1-0 a, 3-0 h).
• This is only the second time Dinamo have qualified from a group stage in any continental competition, the previous occasion having come two years ago, when they beat Viktoria Plzeň in the round of 32 before falling to Benfica after extra time in the round of 16. The club's last European quarter-final was in the 1969/70 European Cup Winners' Cup, when they were beaten by Schalke (1-3 h, 0-1 a).
• Dinamo are undefeated in their last 14 UEFA Europa League home games, qualifiers included, winning 11 of them and scoring 29 goals. In European competition overall a 1-4 defeat by Manchester City in last season's UEFA Champions League is Dinamo's only home loss in 17 matches (W12 D4).
• Villarreal finished fifth in the 2019/20 Spanish Liga to return to Europe after a season's absence and participate in the UEFA Europa League group stage for a record-equalling eighth time.
• The Spanish club, who have reached the UEFA Europa League semi-finals twice, have never finished outside the top two in their eight group campaigns, going through as section winners four times, including this season as Unai Emery’s side won Group I at a canter, scoring 12 goals in winning their first three matches before sealing first place with a 1-0 win at Sivasspor on Matchday 5.
• Villarreal have won two of their previous three UEFA Europa League quarter-final ties. One-sided victories against Dutch side FC Twente in 2010/11 (5-1 h, 3-1 a) and Sparta Praha in 2015/16 (2-1 h, 4-2 a) were followed by a comprehensive defeat against local rivals Valencia in 2018/19 (1-3 h, 0-2 a).
• Villarreal are unbeaten in their last ten UEFA Europa League matches outside Spain (W6 D4), this season's away fixtures bringing wins in Turkey against Qarabağ (3-1) and Sivasspor, a 1-1 draw against Maccabi Tel-Aviv and those 2-0 successes in Salzburg and Kyiv. Villarreal's last defeats in this competition were those against Valencia at this stage two years ago, and they are now undefeated by non-Spanish opposition in 19 European matches (W13 D6).
Links and trivia
• Dinamo striker Mario Gavranović's next appearance in UEFA club competition will be his 50th.
• Francis Coquelin, Villarreal's French midfielder, was a substitute in the Arsenal side defeated 2-1 by Dinamo in Zagreb on Matchday 1 of the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League.
• Villarreal defender Raúl Albiol was a half-time substitute for Real Madrid in their 6-2 victory over Dinamo in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League.
• Dinamo's Kévin Théophile-Catherine played together with Villarreal's Étienne Capoue for France Under-21s in 2010.
• Dinamo's Robbie Burton was a youth player at Arsenal during Emery's spell there as head coach (May 2018 to November 2019).
• Villarreal have played more matches in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, than any other club. This is their 84th encounter – ten more than second-placed Salzburg.
• The 26 goals scored by Villarreal this season have lifted their all-time total in the competition to a record 144, 17 more than Liga rivals Sevilla. They also hold the record for most UEFA Europa League wins (46), four more than Sevilla.
• Emery has overseen 88 matches in the UEFA Europa League proper – 28 more than any other coach. He led Sevilla to all three of their trophy successes from 2013/14 to 2015/16 and was also a losing finalist with Arsenal in 2018/19.
• Damir Krznar replaced Mamić as Dinamo coach three days before the victorious second leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie against Tottenham.