Panathinaikos host Villarreal at the Athens Olympic Stadium in the first game of the Europa League Group stage. Villarreal and Panathinaikos are joined by Rennes and Maccabi Haifa in a tight Group F.
Panathinaikos currently sit second in the Super League Greece with three wins in their three games. These wins include a 3 - 0 win over Volos, a 1 - 0 win over Giannina and a 2 - 0 win over Panetolikos.
In order to end up in the Europa League, Panathinaikos went through three rounds of qualifying, though originally for the Champions League. First was against Dnipro-1 where Andraz Sporar, Filip Duricic and Fotis Ioannidis all scored in the 3 - 1 win in the first leg. Spror was on the scoresheet again in the second leg, though this time Artem Dovbyk and Eduard Sarapiy also scored to level the game at 2 - 2. But Panathinaikos still progressed with a 5 - 3 aggregate. Panathinaikos took a 1 - 0 win thanks to Bernard’s goal late on in the first leg against a ten man Marseille, then in the second leg, Panathinaikos slumped to a 2 - 1 loss, sending the tie to penalties. Matteo Gunedouzi’s miss meant that Panathinaikos converting all five penalties gave them the 5 - 3 win.
In the Play-off Round, Panathinaikos met Braga. Abel Ruiz and Alvero Djalo gave Braga the 2 - 0 lead with Daniel Mancini scoring in the 95th minute to keep Panathinaikos in the game at 2 - 1. However, Juan Carlos was sent off in the 1 - 0 loss to Braga, losing 3 - 1 on aggregate and being sent to the Europa League.
After a somewhat disappointing start to the season, Villarreal sit 13th in La Liga with two wins, three losses and six points. The two wins came against Mallorca, a tight 1 - 0 win, and against Almeria, a 2 - 1 win. For the losses, they include a 2 - 1 loss to Real Betis, a 4 - 3 loss to Barcelona and a 2 - 1 loss to Cadiz where Villarreal were down to ten men with Alfonso Pedraza sent off.
Villarreal qualified for this season of the Europa League directly through their league position. After 38 games with 19 wins, 17 draws, 12 losses and 64 points, Villarreal finished fifth in La Liga earning their automatic qualification to the Group stage. Last season Villarreal competed in the Europa Conference League where they finished top of their group with four wins, a draw and a loss. In the Round of 16, Villarreal drew Andrelecht. In the first leg Manu Trigueros scored for Villarreal, but Anderlecht did manage to level the score through Andres Dreyer meaning Villarreal and Anderlecht went into the second half with a 1 - 1 draw. However, in the second leg, Islam Slimani scored in the 73rd minute to give Anderlecht the 1 - 0 win on the night and the 2 - 1 win on aggregate.
Panathinaikos and Villarreal have met just twice in their histories. Villarreal have won once and there has been one draw both coming in the Champions League Round of 16 in the 2008/09 season. Giorgos Karagounis scored for Panathinaikos with Giuseppe Rossi converting a penalty for the 1 - 1 draw. Villarreal’s win came due to Ariel Ibagaza and Joseba Llorente scoring to give them the 2 - 1 win, with Vangelis Mantzios on the score sheet for Panathinaikos.