Confirmed as winners of Group A on matchday five, Villarreal will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten record in the section as they entertain bottom club Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
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Confirmed as winners of Group A after a 3-2 win at Astana on matchday five, Villarreal will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten record in the section through to the finish as they entertain bottom club Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
• Although already eliminated, the Israeli side have an objective of their own – to find the net for the first time in the group and thus avoid becoming the first team ever to go through a UEFA Europa League group stage without scoring.
• The sides came face to face for the first time on matchday two, drawing 0-0 in Netanya; that is the only point Maccabi have mustered from their five Group A encounters.
• In their only previous tie against a Spanish team, Maccabi lost 3-2 away and then drew 1-1 against Tenerife in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup first round. Villarreal had never previously met Israeli opposition.
• Villarreal are unbeaten in six European matches (W4 D2). However, after winning all seven home fixtures in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League, they have been victorious in only three of the seven European fixtures they have hosted over the past two seasons (D1 L3).
• Maccabi won all four of their away fixtures in this season's qualifying phase without conceding a goal, but have lost their two group games on the road without scoring.
• Semi-finalists in 2015/16, Villarreal are featuring in a fourth consecutive UEFA Europa League group stage. As in the previous three campaigns, they have safely made it through to the round of 32.
• Indeed, Villarreal have been successful in all eight of their UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League group stage participations and now hold the record of progressing from their UEFA Europa League group on six occasions.
• Maccabi have come through from the first qualifying round to the group stage for a second successive season. They were league and cup runners-up in Israel last term.
• Maccabi are competing in their fourth UEFA Europa League group stage. Only once previously, in 2013/14, did they progress to the round of 32.
Links and trivia
• The journey from Tel Aviv to Villarreal is around 3,200km.
• Villarreal hold the UEFA Europa League group stage to final records for most games played (59), most wins (33) and most goals scored (103). They are the only club to have reached a century of goals in the competition.
• Maccabi have failed to score in the first five matchdays; no UEFA Europa League participant has gone through the entire group stage without a goal, six clubs having managed just one.
• Maccabi are one of three teams to have come all the way from first qualifying round to group stage this season, along with Crvena zvezda and Skënderbeu.
• Former team-mates:
Villarreal's Pablo Fornals and Maccabi's Yegor Filipenko (Málaga 2015–16)
Villarreal's Andrés Fernández and Maccabi's Jean-Sylvain Babin (Granada 2015–16)
• Babin has represented four clubs in Spain (Lucena 2008–10, Alcorcón 2010–14, Granada 2014–16, Gijón 2016–17). Team-mate Omer Atzily was at Granada in 2016/17.
• Suspended from next match if booked: Jaume Costa (Villarreal); Nick Blackman, Dor Peretz (Maccabi)
• Javier Calleja took over as Villarreal's new coach after Fran Escribá's dismissal on 25 September. He represented the club as a player from 1999 to 2006, and returned as a youth coach after hanging up his boots. He was coaching the B team when he was called upon to replace Escribá.
• Jordi Cruyff took over as Maccabi boss in 2017 after five years as the club's sporting director. The son of Dutch great Johan Cruyff, he played for Barcelona and Manchester United and reached the 2001 UEFA Cup final with Alavés. He also played for the Netherlands at EURO '96.