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Levski hope to break duck against Villarreal

Without a goal so far in Group G, PFC Levski Sofia can still progress from the section despite losing their first four games, but need a win against Villarreal CF and a favour from section leaders FC Salzburg.

Levski hope to break duck against Villarreal
Levski hope to break duck against Villarreal ©UEFA.com

PFC Levski Sofia can still progress from UEFA Europa League Group G despite losing their first four games, but need a victory against Villarreal CF and a favour from section leaders FC Salzburg.

• For Levski to qualify both they and Salzburg must win their remaining games, and the Bulgarian side's results would also have to give them a superior head-to-head record against Villarreal and S.S. Lazio. Villarreal will be through if they prevail in Sofia and Lazio lose in Salzburg.

Previous meetings
• Villarreal beat Levski 1-0 on Matchday 1 in what was their first UEFA game against a Bulgarian team. Levski's six home fixtures against Spanish sides have ended in two wins and four defeats, with the last four Liga clubs to visit earning triumphs without conceding a goal.

Match background
• Levski are the only side yet to score in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage. They have lost their last six European games, scoring just once in the process.

• Villarreal have not won in their last five UEFA club competition group-stage away games since a 2-1 UEFA Cup victory at AEK Athens FC on 20 December 2007. They have conceded twice in their last four group-stage away trips.

Team facts
• This is Levski's third European game since the resignation of Serbian coach Ratko Dostanić in the wake of a 1-0 defeat at home by PFC Beroe Stara Zagora on 18 October that left the Bulgarian champions lying ninth in the 16-team Bulgarian top division. Sporting director Georgi Ivanov is now overseeing first-team affairs with Antoni Zdravkov working as coach.

• Known as 'Gonzo' by the club's fans, the 33-year-old Ivanov won five league titles in three spells as a player at Levski, and is yet to abandon hope of a comeback on the pitch, though he took over as sporting director in the summer. Schooled at his hometown club PFC Lokomotiv Plovdiv 1936, the 33-times capped international also played for Stade Rennais FC, Samsunspor, Gaziantepspor and HNK Rijeka.

• Levski need two more goals to reach 250 in UEFA club competition, with this their 175th continental fixture. However, they are also within three goals of conceding their 250th in Europe.

• Levski take their name from Bulgarian national hero Vasil Levski.

• 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's naturalised Brazilian left-back Lucio Wagner has some experience of Spanish football, having played for Sevilla 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.

• Levski visit Lazio on Matchday 6, with Villarreal hosting Salzburg on the same night, 17 December.