Villarreal will resume this Thursday (6:45 p.m.) the assault on the 2022-2023 Conference League with a visit to a team with a tradition in European football although in decline like Belgian Anderlecht, against which it hopes to maintain its improvement to bring a good result for the return at the Estadio de la Cerámica.

The ‘Yellow Submarine’ returns to the third continental competition more than three months after finishing the group stage with a clear defeat against Polish Lech Poznan (3-0), in what was Quique’s third game on the bench Setién, but that did not have any consequence because the classification and the first place were already certified.

The coach hopes to debut his record of victories in this Conference since he could not beat Israeli Happoel Beer Sheva either, with whom he drew (2-2) when he had barely been in the Castellón team for a day and a half as relief of Unai Emery. The club attaches great importance to any title and the Spaniard knows that he cannot leave it too far away, even more so being one of the clear candidates to conquer it.

And this decisive stretch of the competition begins at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium in Brussels against Anderlecht, the most successful team in Belgian football and which shone on the Old Continent between the late 70s and the 80s, a stretch in the who won five European trophies (two Cup Winners’ Cups, one UEFA Cup and two Super Cups) and played in three more finals.

However, now he does not have as much prominence and he will want to start to recover it in a Conference League that could give him an opportunity and in which he has been playing since last summer due to having to go through two qualifying rounds. In their group, they were surpassed by English West Ham and reached this round of 16 after eliminating Bulgarian Ludogorets on penalties.

Anderlecht, with not too well-known players except for the Belgian center-back Jan Vertonghen or the Algerian striker Islam Slimani, is not in a great moment, tenth in its league and with only one victory, against Ludogorets, in its last five games, so that seems like a theoretical victim for a Villarreal that, however, at home cost him something more in this Europa League and that he cannot lose sight of LaLiga Santander either.

The Castellón team wants to take advantage of the return to European competition to further cement the return to a good dynamic. After chaining four straight defeats, they have recovered with two hard-fought victories against Getafe (2-1) and Almería (0-2), which have allowed them to maintain options to fight for a fourth place that has reopened for the small drop in Real Sociedad.

Now, the ‘Yellow Submarine’ is going to have to deal with a tough calendar that is key to their aspirations with home games against Betis and the San Sebastian team and visits to El Sadar and the Bernabéu, something that may cause Quique Setién to surely opt for distribute efforts, starting already this Thursday.

The French midfielder Etienne Capoue has not traveled due to being ‘touched’ muscularly and will be the main absence, in addition to the long-term injured Francis Coquelin, in an eleven where Giovani Lo Celso could be, who has just returned from injury and is looking to go Picking up a competitive pace for what lies ahead.

In addition, currently substitute players such as Alfonso Pedraza, Aissa Mandi, Jorge Cuenca, Kiko Femenía, Johan Mojica and Nicolas Jackson also seem to have their chance in the Belgian capital, while Gerard Moreno will most likely be a substitute thinking about the League and the visit of Betis.

By Lay

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