After beating Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 in the first leg, Villarreal are in good position to reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals for the third time when they receive a visit from the Croatian champions at the Estadio de La Cerámica, where they have had a perfect balance in Europe this season.
• Villarreal took first place in Group I of the UEFA Europa League ahead of Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Sivasspor and Qarabağ to reach the Round of 32 for the eighth time, before comfortably ditching the group stage participants UEFA Champions League teams, Salzburg (0-2 away, 2-1 home) and Dynamo Kiev (0-2 away, 2-0 home), in the two knockout rounds.
• Dynamo, the last Croatian representative in Europe, had a magnificent autumn in the UEFA Europa League. They were undefeated in Group K after scoring 14 points and finishing first, ahead of Wolfsberg, Feyenoord and CSKA Moscow. In the round of 32 they got rid of another Russian team, beating Krasnodar (2-3 away, 1-0 at home), before dramatically coming back from 2-0 in the first leg against Tottenham to win the match in home 3-0 after extra time, thanks to a brilliant hat-trick from Mislav Oršić.
• Villarreal reached 20 European games without losing to non-Spanish rivals with their 1-0 victory in Zagreb, thanks to a goal in the 44th minute from Gerard Moreno (who had already scored doublets at home against Salzburg and Dynamo de Kiev) from the penalty spot that decided the match.
• These teams had only met once in UEFA competition: Vahid Halihodžić’s Dynamo beat Juan Carlos Garrido’s Villarreal 2-0 at home on Matchday 1 of the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League, before the team Spanish won the second leg 3-0 to seal their place in the knockout phase, where they would reach the semifinals. Dynamo, meanwhile, was eliminated after finishing third in the group.
• While those matches were Villarreal’s only official matches against Croatian rivals prior to this tie, Dynamo had played ten UEFA matches against Spanish clubs prior to the first leg, losing eight of them, with that 2010 home win against Villarreal as the only success. Their last five meetings with La Liga clubs have seen losses, with the first-leg debacle against Villarreal being the last of them after four defeats in the UEFA Champions League group stage: against Real Madrid in 2011/12 (0 -1 at home, 6-2 away) and Sevilla in 2016/17 (0-1 at home, 4-0 away).
• Villarreal finished fifth in the 2019/20 League to return to Europe after a season absent. They took part in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the eighth time, equaling the record.
• The Spanish club, which have reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League twice, have yet to finish outside the top two in their eight seasons in the group stage, and have already been group winners four times. Unai Emery’s team won Group I with many goals this season, scoring 12 goals in their first three games before sealing first place with a 1-0 win at Sivasspor on matchday five.
• Villarreal have won two of their previous three quarter-final ties. The resounding victories against Twente in 2010/11 (5-1 at home and 1-3 away) and against Sparta Prague in 2015/16 (2-1 at home, 2-4 away) were followed for a defeat against Valencia in the 2018/19 edition (1-3 at home, 2-0 away)
• Villarreal’s home record in the UEFA Europa League knockout stage is 12 wins, two draws and four losses. Those losses led to elimination, including the last three seasons, most recently against Valencia in the 2018/19 quarter-finals. Villarreal have not lost a UEFA Europa League game since that tie and are now unbeaten against non-Spanish opponents in 20 European matches (14 wins and six draws), winning their last five home games.
• On each of those last eleven occasions that Villarreal won the first leg of a European tie, the Spanish side have qualified, including this season’s triumphs against Salzburg and Dynamo Kiev. Only once have they won the first leg away from home 0-1, against Sporting CP in the round of 32 of the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League (1-1 at home)
• Last season, Dynamo won their 21st Croatian title (record) and completed a hat-trick in the 1. HNL. They also reached the 2019/20 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 result in the competition in 20 years.
• Dynamo started this European campaign under the guidance of their coach Zoran Mamić, beating local CFR Cluj on penalties in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, 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 this competition for the sixth time. As in 2018/19, they won four and drew two of their six games to lead the group, beating Feyenoord (0-0 home, 0-2 away), CSKA (0-0 away, 3 -1 at home) and also classified Wolfsberg (1-0 at home, 0-3 away).
• This is the second time that Dynamo have made it past the group stage of a continental competition, as the previous time was two years ago, when they beat Viktoria Plzeň in the round of 32, before losing to Benfica in extra time. round of 16. The last time the club reached a European quarter-final was at the 1969/70 Cup Winners’ Cup, when they were beaten by Schalke (1-3 at home, 1-0 away).
• Dynamo’s win at Wolfsberg on matchday four was the first in eight away games at Europe outside of qualifying (three draws and four defeats). To that triumph he added new away victories against Feyenoord and Krasnodar, before falling against Tottenham. Their overall UEFA Europa League away record is eight wins, two draws and 12 losses.
• Dinamo have lost eight of the nine UEFA qualifiers in which they have been beaten at home in the first leg, the most recent against Austria Vienna in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League play-offs (0 -2 at home, 3-2 at home). However, their only victory came on the only previous time they lost 1-0: against Ajax in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup first round, when they rallied to win 3-2 in Amsterdam. A Luka Modrić penalty tied the tie before a Mario Mandžukić double in extra time allowed the Croatian side to advance to the group stage for double the value of away goals.
• Dynamo striker Mario Gavranović will make his 50th appearance in UEFA club competition if he plays.
• Francis Coquelin, Villarreal’s French midfielder, was a substitute for Arsenal who lost 2-1 to Dynamo in Zagreb on the first matchday of the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League.
• Villarreal’s Raúl Albiol was a substitute and entered the break in Real Madrid’s 6-2 win over Dinamo in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League.
• Dynamo’s Kévin Théophile-Catherine played alongside Villarreal’s Étienne Capoue for the France Under-21 team in 2010.
• Dynamo’s Robbie Burton was a player in Arsenal’s youth ranks during Emery’s spell at the English club (May 2018 to November 2019).
• Villarreal are the club with the most appearances in the UEFA Europa League, from the group stage to the final. This is their 85th game, eleven more than Salzburg, second on the list.
• Villarreal’s 27 goals this season have raised their goalscoring figures in the competition to 145, 18 more than their Liga rival Sevilla. They also hold the record for the most UEFA Europa League wins (47), five more than Sevilla.
• Emery has led 89 UEFA Europa League games, 29 more than any other manager. He led Sevilla to win three titles in a row between the 2013/14 and 2015/16 seasons, and also lost a final to Arsenal in 2018/19.
• Damir Krznar replaced Mamić as Dynamo coach three days before their UEFA Europa League round of 16 second leg win against Tottenham.
• The winner of this tie will face Slavia Prague or Arsenal in the semi-finals
• Villarreal’s record in two penalty shootouts in UEFA competition is two wins and no losses:
4-3 v Torino, UEFA Intertoto Cup third round
3-1 v Atlético de Madrid, UEFA Intertoto Cup final
• Dynamo’s record in two penalty shootouts in UEFA competition is one win and one loss:
5-6 v Sheriff, 2010/2011 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
6-5 v CFR Cluj, 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round