Despite a heavy defeat in Spain, Rapid Wien are still right in the Group H hunt as Villarreal visit for the reverse fixture.
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All is still to play for after three matchdays in UEFA Europa League Group G and, despite Rapid Wien's 5-0 defeat at Villarreal last time out, a repeat of the home win when the teams last met in Vienna will take them above their Spanish opponents in the standings.
• The clubs have been paired just once before, in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League group stage, and honours ended even as each won at home. Rapid were 2-1 victors in Austria, with Stefan Schwab on target, and Villarreal won 1-0 in Spain thanks to a goal from Bruno Soriano.
• Villarreal have now won four and lost three overall against Austrian opposition, with one win and two defeats away. Rapid have a home record against Spanish clubs of W3 D1 L3, although the win three seasons ago against Villarreal is their only one in the last five fixtures.
• Third place in the 2017/18 Austrian Bundesliga earned Rapid a place in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, where they overcame Slovan Bratislava 5-2 on aggregate (1-2 away, 4-0 home) before eliminating FCSB in the play-offs (3-1 home, 1-2 away).
• Although there was no European campaign for Rapid last season, they are very familiar with the UEFA Europa League group stage; this is their seventh appearance – only fellow Austrians Salzburg have been involved in more. On just one occasion, however, have the Vienna outfit reached the round of 32 – in 2015/16, when they were eliminated after a record 10-0 aggregate defeat by Valencia.
• Three wins out of three in Vienna this season mean Rapid are unbeaten in six European home games (W4 D2). They are also on a run of 11 home matches without defeat in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W7 D4), since going down 0-4 to Bayer Leverkusen on matchday three in 2012/13.
• 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 in every previous case progress into the competition's knockout phase.
• The Spanish club hold the record not only for the most games played in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final (65), but also the most wins (34, level with Salzburg) and the most goals scored (114).
• Villarreal are currently on an unbeaten streak of nine UEFA Europa League group stage away matches (W3 D6), the last defeat on their travels at this juncture of the competition having been that 2-1 reverse at Rapid on matchday one of the 2015/16 campaign.
Links and trivia
• Rapid coach Dietmar Kühbauer played for Real Sociedad between 1997 and 2000, playing once against Villarreal – a 1-1 draw in October 1998. He also played twice against Spain for Austria.
• Villarreal's Carlos Bacca has scored 15 goals in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, which places him joint seventh in the competition's all-time listing, albeit with half as many goals as top scorer – and fellow Colombian international – Radamel Falcao.
• Rapid's 5-0 defeat at Villarreal last time out means that they have now lost more games (22) than any other club in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, overtaking Spain's Athletic Club.
• That 5-0 win for Villarreal – which featured five different scorers – was the biggest of their 34 UEFA Europa League victories, group stage to final.
• Dietmar Kühbauer was named as the new head coach of Rapid on 1 October, replacing Goran Djuricin, who was dismissed two days earlier after a 0-2 home defeat to a St Pölten side led by Kühbauer. A Rapid legend as a player, midfielder 'Didi' won the Austrian Bundesliga title in 1995/96, the same season in which he helped the club reach the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final. Capped 55 times by Austria between 1992 and 2005, his coaching career came to a halt in November 2015 after spells with Admira and Wolfsberg, before resuming in April 2018 at St Pölten.
• Javier Calleja took over as Villarreal's new coach on 25 September 2017 following Fran Escribá's dismissal. 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 promoted to the top job. Villarreal finished fifth in the Liga in his first season in charge.