MADRID, 20 Sep. (EUROPA PRESS) –
Real Betis and Villarreal make their debut this Thursday in the Europa League with two different outings, as the Andalusians will visit the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow to face Rangers, while the ‘Yellow Submarine’ will play at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium in Athens against Panathinaikos , in two duels that will be marked by the atmospheres generated by the rival fans.
The Betic team faces what will be its third consecutive participation in the Europa League with the aim of exceeding the ceiling of the round of 16, a round that it has never surpassed throughout the history of the tournament. To do this, Manuel Pellegrini’s team needs to start the group stage with good feelings and a positive result.
It will not be easy, since the draw has meant that in its debut, the green and white will visit Glasgow Rangers, a priori, the most complex rival in the group. It will be the first time that Real Betis plays at the legendary Ibrox Stadium, although not the first time they do so on Scottish soil.
Two seasons ago they also visited the city of Glasgow to face Rangers’ eternal rival, Celtic, against whom they were defeated 3-2. Despite this, the Green and Whites intend to continue their good streak in their debuts in the Europa League, where they remain undefeated in their four participations, starting the last two editions with victory.
As for sports, Pellegrini will bring Guido Rodríguez back into the eleven, whom he rested last weekend against FC Barcelona. The Argentine’s role in the midfield will be key, against a rival that is going wonderfully, to recover the defensive solidity that the Andalusian team has lost away from home this season. And outside of their fiefdom, Betis has conceded 10 goals in three games, figures that are even more worrying after Luiz Felipe’s departure to Saudi football.
In attack is where the Chilean coach has the most possibilities open. Borja Iglesias could regain ownership three games later and give Willian José a rest. In addition, Abde and Rodri, both substitutes against Barça, are also expected from the start to provide freshness and verticality on the wings.
On the part of Rangers, who are fourth in the Scottish Premiership after five games, their greatest danger is on the right wing. The Jamaican winger Roofe and Tavernier, right back, monopolize most of the attacks of a team that feels comfortable playing on the counter and that does not need elaboration to generate danger.
On the other hand, Villarreal, the other Spanish representative in the Europa League this season, will have a calmer debut in Athens against Panathinaikos. It will be the return of the ‘Submarine’ to the Europa League after two years away from a tournament that, the last time it played (2021), it managed to win. A match that will also mean Pacheta’s debut as a coach in a European competition after 15 years on the bench.
Although it has not been the expected start to the season for fans of the ‘groguet’ team, the arrival of Pacheta seems to have given a boost of enthusiasm to a team that, under Quique Setién, never achieved regularity. Now, with the help of the Burgos coach, they will try to put an end to the sawtooth in performance, and the best way to demonstrate it would be by achieving the second consecutive victory, something they have not achieved this season.
Furthermore, the ‘groguets’ will try in Greece to put an end to a bad streak in their debuts in European competition away from home, where, in their five attempts, they have never achieved victory. For this, Panathinaikos does not seem like a bad rival, since of the six matches that Villarreal has played against Greek teams they have only been defeated in one, achieving victory on 4 occasions.
In terms of sports, changes are expected in Villarreal’s eleven due to the demands of the calendar in the coming days. It will be the opportunity for players like Comesaña or Brereton, signed this summer market and who are not getting many minutes, to vindicate themselves with a great performance. In addition to them, Reina, Pedraza, Cuenca and Ilias Akhomach are aiming for ownership in Atenas.
As for the rival, Panathinaikos has started the season with full victories in the Greek league, where it is second with one game less than Olympiacos. Furthermore, the cauldron that will be the Athens Olympic Stadium is one of the greatest bases for a team that has only lost one of the last four European games it has played there. As for proper names, the Brazilian Bernard, formerly of Shakhtar or Everton, is their most decisive player, who has also just achieved a hat-trick in the last league match against Panetolikos.
Beyond the duels of the Spaniards, what stands out on the first day is the visit of the top favorite for the title, Liverpool, to the Austrian LASK, the duel between two European champions such as Ajax and Marseille at the Johan Cruyff Arena, and the debut of two candidates such as Bayer Leverkusen, which receives the Swedish Häcken, and Roma, which will visit Moldovan Sheriff.