The final qualifying matches take place today, but Villarreal already know they will be in Pot 1 for Friday’s Europa League group stage draw. We could be ranked as high as 7th or as low as 11th, which makes a slight difference n terms of how much money we earn from this new coefficient ranking of the teams in the group stage.
Interestingly, it appears the first pot will contain two teams who had to fight through three qualifying rounds—Sevilla and Besiktas.
Pot 2 has some quality teams Villarreal will hope to avoid—AC Milan, Olympique Marseille, Sporting Lisbon, and Lazio among them. We’d probably be happy with old friends Celtic (if they get through) or either of the Belgian pair, Genk or Gent.
Pot 3 has Maccabi Tel-Aviv, whom we played last year, Red Bull Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt; Pot 4 could have the first Luxemburg team to make the group stage, Dudelange, if they can hold onto their 2-0 lead against Cluj in Romania. Slavia Prague are in this group, too.
We cannot face Sevilla (pot 1) or Betis (pot 3) in the group stage, nor can we play a Spanish side in the Round of 32 if we get there.
The draw will be Friday in Zurich; we hope for some luck for a change....