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Sporting CP v Villarreal background

Sporting CP and Villarreal have a wealth of UEFA Europa League experience as they each enter the knockout round for the seventh time.

Sporting CP need to improve on their record against Spanish opposition
Sporting CP need to improve on their record against Spanish opposition ©AFP/Getty Images

Two of the UEFA Europa League's most experienced campaigners go head to head in Lisbon as Sporting CP and Villarreal, who are meeting for the first time, each embark on a record-equalling seventh knockout campaign.

• Sporting came through Group E as runners-up to Arsenal, their 13-point tally not only the best of all the second-placed qualifiers but better also than that of six group winners. Those included Villarreal, who managed ten points but progressed undefeated from a highly competitive Group G, their fifth qualification in five successive seasons for the knockout phase sealed only with a 2-1 matchday six win at home against Spartak Moskva.

Previous meetings
• Sporting have played 26 UEFA matches against Spanish opposition and won only seven, although all have come in Lisbon – against six different clubs, Athletic Club the only team defeated twice. Atlético Madrid went down 1-0 at the Estádio José Alvalade in the second leg of last season's UEFA Europa League quarter-final but went through after winning the first leg 2-0 in Madrid. That made it seven aggregate defeats for Sporting in nine two-legged European ties against Spanish teams, their last win coming in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup third round against Athletic.

#UEL flashback: Villarreal 4-7 Porto

• Villarreal have played only one previous knockout tie against Portuguese opposition, a 7-4 defeat against Porto in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League semi-final, when they lost the away first leg 5-1.

Form guide
• Sporting finished third in the 2017/18 Portuguese Liga. They suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Aves in the Portuguese Cup final, but nevertheless claimed a place in the UEFA Europa League group stage.

• The Lisbon club have been regular participants in the UEFA Europa League since its inception in 2009/10, featuring in the competition proper in eight of its ten seasons – a record they share with Ajax and Salzburg. Their fifth successful qualification from the group stage in six attempts was achieved on the back of home and away wins against Qarabağ and Vorskla Poltava, although they failed to score against Arsenal (0-1 home, 0-0 away). Semi-finalists in 2011/12, they reached last season's quarter-finals after transferring from the UEFA Champions League group stage.

• Sporting have won three of their six UEFA Europa League round of 32 ties. Their successes came in 2009/10 against Everton (1-2 away, 3-0 home), 2011/12 against Legia Warszawa (2-2 away, 1-0 home) and last season against Astana (3-1 away, 3-3 home), but they were eliminated in 2010/11 by Rangers (1-1 away, 2-2 home), in 2014/15 by Wolfsburg (0-2 away, 0-0 home) and in 2015/16 by Bayer Leverkusen (0-1 home, 1-3 away). Their home record at this stage is W2 D3 L1.

Europa League group stage review

• Sporting's 0-1 defeat by Arsenal on matchday three ended a run of three European home wins without conceding. They have only lost two other games in Lisbon in the UEFA Europa League proper; their home record in the competition overall, including qualifying, is W22 D8 L4.

• Villarreal finished fifth in the 2017/18 Spanish Liga to qualify for Europe for the fifth successive season, all of them featuring UEFA Europa League group stage participation and subsequent progress to the knockout phase.

• In total they have made seven UEFA Europa League group appearances and have never finished outside the top two. They topped their section for only the third time this term, drawing at Spartak (3-3), Rapid Wien (0-0) and Rangers (0-0) and picking up seven points at home. Their best seasons in the competition were 2010/11 and 2015/16, when they reached the semi-finals.

• Like Sporting, Villarreal have a 50% success rate in the round of 32, with three qualifications out of six. The victories came against Napoli in 2010/11 (0-0 away, 2-1 home) and 2015/16 (1-0 away, 1-1 home) and Salzburg in 2014/15 (2-1 home, 3-1 away); the defeats were by Wolfsburg in 2009/10 (2-2 home, 1-4 away), Roma in 2016/17 (0-4 home, 1-0 away) and Lyon in 2017/18 (1-3 away, 0-1 home). Their away record at this stage is W3 D1 L2.

Best goals of the 2018/19 group stage

• Villarreal are unbeaten in 11 UEFA Europa League group stage away matches (W3 D8), but have lost the away match in three of their last four two-legged ties. Their away record overall in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W5 D3 L5.

UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Luiz Phellype, Cristian Borja, Tiago Ilori
Out: Emiliano Viviano, Carlos Mané, Elves Baldé, Tiago Djaló, Daniel Bragança, Rodrigo Battaglia

In: Vicente Iborra, Xavi Quintillà, Ramón Bueno
Out: Nicola Sansone, Miguel Layún, Emmanuel Lomotey

Links and trivia 
• Nani made 25 Liga appearances for Villarreal's local rivals Valencia in 2016/17, scoring five times. He faced Villarreal twice, scoring once (W1 L1). He also appeared against Villarreal with Manchester United in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage, both games ending scoreless.

• Jérémy Mathieu played for Valencia between 2009 and 2014, before making a further 62 Liga appearances for Barcelona between 2014 and 2017. He played against Villarreal 13 times in all competitions (W8 D3 L2). During part of his time at Valencia (2011–13) he had Víctor Ruiz, now at Villarreal, as a team-mate.

• Villarreal goalkeeper Andrés Fernández played briefly for Porto in 2014/15.

• Marcos Acuña (Sporting) and Ramiro Funes Mori (Valencia) are Argentina internationals.

The best saves of the group stage

• Sporting and Villarreal are appearing in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase for the seventh time – a competition record they share with Ajax and fellow 2018/19 participants Napoli.

• Villarreal are one of seven teams to have come through the UEFA Europa League group stage undefeated, alongside Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal, Real Betis, Eintracht Frankfurt and Chelsea.

• Villarreal hold the record not only for the most games played in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final (68), but also the most goals scored (116).

The coaches
• Marcel Keizer was named as the new Sporting coach on 8 November last year, filling the gap left by the dismissal of José Peseiro a week earlier. The 50-year-old Dutchman was lured to Lisbon from Al-Jazira in the United Arab Emirates, his previous job in Europe having been at Ajax, where he was promoted from the youth team in June 2017 to replace Peter Bosz as head coach but lasted only half a season. His playing career started at Ajax but was spent mostly in the Dutch second tier at Cambuur.

• First appointed on 25 September 2017, Javier Calleja was reinstated as Villarreal's coach on 29 January – just 50 days after being dismissed and replaced by Luis García Plaza. He represented the club as a player from 1999 to 2006, having started out at academy level with Real Madrid, and returned as a youth coach in 2012/13 after hanging up his boots. He was coaching the B team, a position he had held for only a few weeks, when he was originally promoted to the top job. Villarreal finished fifth in the Liga in his first season in charge.