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Villarreal vs Dinamo Zagreb: UEFA Europa League background, form guide, previous meetings

Having defeated Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 away in the first leg, Villarreal are in a strong position to secure a third participation in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.

Villarreal won the first leg 1-0
Villarreal won the first leg 1-0 Getty Images

Having defeated Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 away in the first leg, Villarreal are in a strong position to reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals for the third time as they host the Croatian champions at the Estadio de la Cerámica, where they have a perfect record in Europe this season.

• 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.

• 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 Hotspur to win the home leg 3-0 after extra time thanks to a brilliant Mislav Oršić hat-trick.

Highlights: Dinamo Zagreb 0-1 Villarreal (2 mins)

Previous meetings
• Villarreal made it 20 European matches without defeat against non-Spanish opposition as they eked out a 1-0 win in Zagreb, a 44th-minute penalty from in-form striker Gerard Moreno – who had scored doubles at home to both Salzburg and Dynamo Kyiv – deciding the outcome.

• The teams have been drawn together just once before in UEFA competition, Vahid Halilhodžić'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 were Villarreal's only official matches against Croatian opposition before this tie, Dinamo had played ten UEFA games against Spanish clubs prior to the first leg, losing eight of them, with that 2010 victory at home to Villarreal the solitary success. Their last five encounters with Liga clubs have all brought defeats, the first-leg reverse against Villarreal following on from four losses 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).

See Dinamo Zagreb overcome Villarreal in 2010

Form guide
• 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, in 2010/11 and 2015/16, 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 five years later (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's home record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W12 D2 L4, the defeats all leading to elimination, including in each of their last three campaigns – most recently in that 2018/19 quarter-final by Valencia. Villarreal have not lost a UEFA Europa League match since that tie and are now undefeated by non-Spanish opposition in 20 European matches (W14 D6), winning their last five at home.

• On each of the 11 previous occasions that Villarreal won the first away leg of a European tie they have gone on to qualify, including this season's successes against Salzburg and Dynamo Kyiv. Only once previously have they won 1-0 on the road in the first leg – against Sporting CP in the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League round of 32 (1-1 h).

Highlights: Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 Tottenham (AET) (2 mins)

• 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's victory at Wolfsberg on Matchday 4 was their first in eight European away fixtures outside the qualifying phase (D3 L4), to which they subsequently added further wins on the road at Feyenoord and Krasnodar before losing at Tottenham. Their overall away record in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, is W8 D2 L12.

• Dinamo have lost eight of the nine UEFA ties in which they were defeated at home in the first leg, most recently against Austria Wien in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League play-offs (0-2 h, 3-2 a). However, their sole success came on the one previous occasion that they lost 0-1 – against Ajax in the first round of the 2007/08 UEFA Cup when they recovered to win 3-2 in Amsterdam, Luka Modrić's penalty levelling the tie before a Mario Mandžukić extra-time double enabled the Croatian side to progress to the group stage on away goals.

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 85th encounter – 11 more than second-placed Salzburg.

• The 23 goals scored by Villarreal this season have lifted their all-time total in the competition to a record 147, 18 more than Liga rivals Sevilla. They also hold the record for most UEFA Europa League wins (47), five more than Sevilla.

• Emery has overseen 89 matches in the UEFA Europa League proper – 29 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.

• Villarreal's six-match winning run in all competitions ended on Sunday with a 1-2 home defeat by Osasuna in the Spanish Liga, while Dinamo moved two points clear of title rivals Osijek at the top of the Croatian 1. HNL table with a 2-0 victory at city rivals Lokomotiva Zagreb.

• The winners of this tie will face either Slavia Praha or Arsenal in the semi-final.

Penalty shoot-outs
• Villarreal's record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L0:
4-3 v Torino, 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round
3-1 v Atlético de Madrid, 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup final

• Dinamo's record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L1:
5-6 v Sheriff, 2010/11 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
6-5 v CFR Cluj, 2020/21 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round