bundesliga.com has the pre-match rundown from both camps ahead of the pivotal European encounter at the Estadio El Madrigal…
Just a point separates these two sides coming into Matchday 5, but while Gladbach have remained unbeaten (2W 1D) in the Europa League since their 1-1 draw in the group’s opening fixture, Thursday’s free-scoring hosts slumped to a 3-2 defeat to FC Zürich last time out.
Villarreal head coach Marcelino has promised to name his “best possible line-up”, but will have to make do without star centre-back Mateo Musacchio, who is still out with a hamstring injury, while the inclusions of Giovanni dos Santos and Bruno Soriano (r.) (both groin) remain in doubt.
First-team regulars Martin Stranzl (thigh), Fabian Johnson (muscle) and Christoph Kramer (back) are still yet to recover from their respective knocks and did not travel to Spain, which could result in Lucien Favre naming an unchanged side from Gladbach’s 3-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt.
While Gerard Moreno’s league form may not be as sparkling - just two goals in five La Liga outings - the 22-year-old has bagged three goals in as many Europa League group stage appearances, meaning Gladbach will need to keep the Yellow Submarines’ striker quiet to stand any chance of taking all three points.
With Thursday’s hosts scoring at a rate of almost three goals per game in Europe, Tony Jantschke’s speed and versatility alongside Alvaro Dominguez will play a key role in stifling Villarreal’s high-octane frontline. However, he’ll need to put in a much improved performance in light of the loss to Frankfurt.
Oscar Wendt, Gladbach defender: “It’s going to come down to defending well. If we do that then I’m optimistic of qualifying for the next round.”
Marcelino, Villarreal head coach: “Win and we’ll have a great chance of finishing top of the group.”
Having seen their 18-game unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end with back-to-back league defeats, Gladbach will be hoping to do a better job of preserving that record in Europe against a Villarreal side who have scored four times in all three of their European home games this season.
Gladbach, who are unbeaten away from home in the Europa League, have only won once on Spanish soil in the club’s history when Jupp Heynckes bagged a brace in a 4-2 win over Real Zaragoza in 1974, while Villarreal’s sole defeat at home to German opposition came in a 2-0 loss to FC Bayern München in 2011.
Villarreal: Asenjo - Mario, Gabriel, Víctor Ruiz, Jaume Costa - Moi Gómez, Bruno Soriano, Pina, J. dos Santos - Moreno, Uche
Gladbach: Sommer - Korb, Jantschke, Dominguez, Wendt - Xhaka, Nordtveit - Herrmann, Raffael, Traore - Kruse