Steaua v Villarreal background
It was a close-run thing the last time Steaua met Villarreal, but following a matchday one defeat, the Romanian side have extra motivation as they bid to sink the Yellow Submarine in Group L.
• Manuel Pellegrini’s Villarreal eliminated Walter Zenga’s Steaua from the 2004/05 UEFA Cup round of 16 in the teams’ only previous meeting, Juan Roman Riquelme’s penalty at El Madrigal decisive after a goalless first leg.
• The line-ups for their encounter in Bucharest on 16 March 2005 were:
Steaua: Khomutovski, Rădoi, Munteanu, Diniţa (Dumitru 75), Dică (Ciocoiu 90), Marin, Opriţa, Ogăraru, Cristea (Boştină 75), Paraschiv, Ghionea.
Villarreal: Reina, Arruabarrena, Cazorla (Font 87), Josico, Sorín, Figueroa, Quique Álvarez (Arzo 89), Venta, Senna, Peña, Mari (Guayre 85).
• Those were Villarreal’s only games to date against Romanian opponents, while Steaua have faced Spanish sides 26 times in total with the record W6 D5 L15 (W4 D3 L5 in Bucharest). Most notably, they beat Barcelona on penalties following a 0-0 draw to win the 1986 European Champion Clubs’ Cup final.
• Steaua have lost their last six matches against Spanish clubs since a 3-0 second-leg success over Real Betis in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup round of 16.
• A 2-0 reverse at Osmanlıspor on matchday one means Steaua are on a three-game losing streak in Europe.
• Villarreal have lost their last two European away fixtures without scoring.
• UEFA Europa League semi-finalists last term, the Yellow Submarine have made it through to the round of 32 in all six of their previous UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.
• Steaua have qualified for the round of 32 in four of their seven UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.
Links and trivia
• The journey from Villarreal to Bucharest is around 2,200km.
• Villarreal’s 2-1 matchday one victory over Zürich was their 28th win in the UEFA Europa League, enabling them to overtake Sevilla and set a new competition record. They also extended their record number of goals to 85.
• Steaua defender Bogdan Mitrea turns 29 the day of Villarreal’s visit.
• Steaua’s Gabriel Tamaş (Celta Vigo, 2006–07) and Wilfried Moke (several lower-league sides including Cádiz, 2010–13, and Burgos, 2013–15) have played club football in Spain.
• Jonathan dos Santos’s winner for Villarreal against Zürich was the 400th goal scored in the UEFA Europa League by a Spanish team – which is the highest total for any country’s representative clubs.
• Laurenţiu Reghecampf collected two titles as a midfielder with Steaua and two more in his first stint as coach, from 2012 to 2014. He returned to Bucharest in December 2015 after a spell in Bulgaria with Litex Lovech, with whom he won the championship as a player in 1998/99.
• Fran Escribá took charge of Villarreal in August. Originally a playing trainee at Valencia, he had coached the Mestalla club’s youth teams and had worked as Quique Sánchez Flores’s assistant at Valencia, Getafe, Benfica and Atlético Madrid before going it alone with Elche and – last term – Getafe.