The 2018 final hosts Lyon travel to Spain defending a 3-1 first-leg lead, although Villarreal's UEFA Europa League expertise means Les Gones will take nothing for granted.
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Hosts of the 2018 UEFA Europa League final, Lyon appear to be in control of this round of 32 tie as they defend a 3-1 first-leg lead against Villarreal – the team with most wins and most goals in the competition's nine-season history.
• The Spanish club ensured a fourth successive appearance at this stage of the competition by topping Group A, while their French opponents, who reached the 2016/17 semi-finals, qualified for this season's knockout phase as runners-up of Group E, behind Atalanta.
• Both teams came through with 11 points, having won three matches, drawn two and lost one, the sole defeat coming in each case on matchday six after qualification had already been secured.
• After a goalless first half in the first leg at the Parc OL, the game sparked into life when Lyon scored twice in four minutes after the interval through Tanguy Ndombele (his first European goal) and skipper Nabil Fekir. Villarreal then pulled a goal back through Pablo Fornals before substitute Memphis Depay restored the home side's two-goal advantage with a spectacular strike from distance.
• This is Villarreal's first home fixture against a French club in the UEFA Europa League or UEFA Cup. In four UEFA Champions League matches, home and away, they have scored just two goals, most recently losing twice to Monaco (home 1-2, away 0-1) in the 2016/17 play-offs.
• While the two teams had never met until the first leg, Lyon are accustomed to taking on Spanish opposition, having now played 31 matches against them. Their overall record against Liga teams is W10 D8 L13, with an away record of W3 D4 L8. Their most recent victory in Spain was a 2-0 success against Villarreal's near-neighbours Valencia in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League group stage, Maxwel Cornet scoring the opening goal.
• Victorious in just one of their last four European matches at home (D1 L2), Villarreal have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last eight (W3 D1 L4) – since a 1-0 win over Liverpool in the first leg of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League semi-final.
• The Spanish club are featuring in a fourth consecutive UEFA Europa League knockout phase, having extended their perfect record of qualifying from the group stage to six out of six – a competition record.
• Villarreal were undefeated at home in four round of 32 fixtures, and on a run of three successive wins, when Roma ran out 4-0 winners at the Estadio de la Cerámica at this stage of last season's competition
• Lyon conceded one goal in each of their group stage away matches (W1 D1 L1). They have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last seven European away fixtures (W2 D1 L4).
• The French club have lost their last three UEFA Europa League knockout games on the road and have won just one of their last 17 away games in the spring knockout phase of European competition (D3 L13).
• Villarreal have been successful in all eight of their UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League group stage participations. They have only progressed beyond the round of 32 four times out of seven, however.
• Villarreal reached this season's UEFA Europa League group stage by finishing fifth in the 2016/17 Spanish Liga.
• This is Lyon's fourth appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 32. They lost the first of the previous three ties, against Tottenham in 2012/13, but have been successful on each of the last two occasions, defeating Chornomorets Odesa 1-0 on aggregate in 2013/14 and AZ by a record 11-2 margin last term.
• Lyon were UEFA Europa League semi-finalists last season, when they lost to Ajax having transferred from the UEFA Champions League group stage. They ensured a return to this season's UEFA Europa League group stage by finishing fourth in Ligue 1.
• Villarreal have won three of the six European ties in which they have lost the first leg away. The only time they have turned around a two-goal away defeat was in the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round, when they beat Torino on penalties after the teams had both won 2-0 at home. They have never previously lost 3-1 in an away first leg and have never been beaten at home after losing the first leg away, winning five times and drawing once.
• Lyon have won 17 of the 20 UEFA competition ties in which they have led after the first leg at home. On the three previous occasions that they have won 3-1 at home in the first leg, they have gone through to the next round, most notably against fellow French side Bordeaux in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals (0-1 away).
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Salem al-Dawsari, Javi Fuego, Roger Martínez
Out: Cédric Bakambu, Juan Fernández, Diego Lázaro
In: Oumar Solet
Out: Alan Dzabana, Clément Grenier, Dylan Mboumbouni
Links and trivia
• Villarreal hold the UEFA Europa League group stage to final records for most games played (61), most wins (33) and most goals scored (104). They are the only club to have reached a century of goals in the competition.
• Lyon's Pape Cheikh Diop faced Villarreal once during his time with Celta Vigo (2015–17) – as a second-half substitute in a 5-0 away defeat on 16 October 2016.
• This season's UEFA Europa League final, on 16 May 2018, will be staged in Lyon's home stadium.
• Lyon's Marçal serves a one-match ban after picking up his third booking of the competition in the first leg.
• This is the only round of 32 tie between two teams that kicked off their 2017/18 European campaign in the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Suspended from next match if booked: Jaume Costa (Villarreal).
• Villarreal's record in UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L0:
4-3 v Torino, 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup 3rd round
3-1 v Atlético Madrid, 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup final
• Lyon's record in UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L2:
2-4 v PSV Eindhoven, 2004/05 UEFA Champions League quarter-final
3-4 v APOEL, 2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16
7-6 v Beşiktaş, 2016/17 UEFA Europa League quarter-final
• Javier Calleja took over as Villarreal's new coach after Fran Escribá's dismissal on 25 September 2017. He represented the club as a player from 1999–2006, having started out at academy level with Real Madrid, and returned as a youth coach after hanging up his boots. He was coaching the B team, a position he had held for five years, when he was promoted to the top job.
• Born in Lyon, Bruno Génésio came through the club's ranks as a midfielder, playing for the senior side from 1985 to 1995 before seeing out his career for one season at Martigues. He returned to the club's coaching staff in 2007 and served as assistant boss for four years before taking sole command in December 2015 when he replaced Hubert Fournier.