The draw for the group stage of the Europa Conference League has concluded and Villarreal know who they will be facing.
The Yellows defeated Hajduk Split over two legs, winning the second leg 2-0 on Thursday night.
The first match of the group stage will be played on September 8th. Let’s take a look at the rivals
Hapoel Be’er Sheva
Nicknamed The camels, they were founded in 1949 as a department set up to find young talents at the transit camps of Be’er Sheva, and since 2007 has been owned by businesswoman Alona Barkat.
A team with highs and lows during their history, with promotion and relegation a common theme, they got their first league title in the 1974/75 season, retaining the title in the following season.
It seems that’s their deal, as the other three titles were also won consecutively, starting in the 2015/16 season and finishing in the 2017/18 season. They also have a tragic part of their past, as Zambian footballer Chaswe Nsofwa collapsed during training and later died at the hospital in 2007.
They have entered the competition by winning the State Cup.
A historic team from Austria, nicknamed The violets, and, along with Rapid Wien, the only two teams who have never been relegated from the Austrian Bundesliga.
Founded in 1911, their roots are from the Wiener Cricketer, later renaming themselves as Wiener Amateur.
They saw early success in the 20s with league titles, and becoming professional, thus changing their name to the current Austria Wien in 1926.
The 30s was a decade that saw them not only winning league titles, but also winning two times the Mitropa Cup, a continental trophy for Central European teams.
During this decade, they also had a player voted as greatest Austrian footballer in 1998: Matthias Sindelar. He has been mythicised as, after refusing to play for Germany after the Anchlush (1938), citing old age as he was pushing 35, also suffering from a knee injury.
He died of what has been recorded as carbon monoxide poisoning one year later. Theories are plentiful.
After the World War II, they resumed their activities, winning their first league title in 23 years in 1949.
The decades of the 50s through the 80s were a bit irregular as they had good spells, winning titles with other unremarkable seasons. Some high notes included playing the final of the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1978 and reaching the semi-finals at the European Cup in 1982, while doing the same in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1983.
It wasn’t until the 90s where they manage to get some continued success.
They have had some great players, including Sindelar, Toni Polster (all-time leading scorer for Austria) or Prohaska. As a bit of trivia, they were coached by ex-Germany boss Joachim Löw between 2003 and 2004.
Finishing 3rd in the Austrian Bundesliga, they reached the Europa Conference League group stage after losing their pairing in the Europa League playoffs against Fenerbahçe.
Nicknamed Kolejorz (The railwayman), with the reason being the club was owned by the Polish State Railways (PKP) from 1930 until 1994.
Founded in 1922 as Lutnia Debiec, they went through several name changes, adopting the Lech Poznan name in 1957, after Lech, legendary founder of Poland. They are the most popular team in the voivodeship (province) of Greater Poland
They debuted in the top flight in 1948, in the first season of the Ekstraklasa, as created by the Polish football federation (PZPN) after World War II.
During this period they had some high and lows before starting their golden age in 1980, getting their first five league titles during this time, with the last title of the golden age being in the 1992/93 season.
After that time, they saw their relegation in the 2000. With only one season at the I Liga, they returned quickly and, in 2008, made one interesting signing: Robert Lewandowski.
After being rejecter by Sporting Gijón, he made the move from Znicz Pruszkow. Lech won the 2009/10 season with Lewandowski winning the top scorer trophy. After that league title, they won two more titles.
Having won the 2021/22 title in Poland, they arrived to the group stage after losing the first qualifying round of the Champions League against Qarabag.
On their road to the group stage, they were knocked out in the qualifying round of the Conference League Georgian Dinamo Batumi, Icelandic Vikingur Reykjavik and Luxembourgish F91 Dudelange.
The draw will be seen as very good for Villarreal. They should be able to win the group, although all matches have to be played and you never know what can happen during the 90 minutes.