Sun, 03 Dec 2023

MADRID, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- Real Betis and Villarreal kick off their Europa League campaigns on Thursday with complicated away games.

Betis travel to Scotland to play the Glasgow Rangers in the always-difficult Ibrox Park, while Villarreal visit Greek side Panathinaikos.

It has been a difficult start to the La Liga campaign for Betis, who lost 4-2 in Bilbao and shipped five goals away to Barcelona at the weekend, and coach Manuel Pellegrini is without first choice keeper Rui Silva for the trip to Scotland.

Fortunately, veteran Claudio Bravo is fit to travel, with C-team keeper German Garcia also in the squad, along with winger Aitor Ruibal and midfielder Andres Guardado, who have recovered from injury.

However, long-term absentees William Carvalho and Nabil Fekir, and right back Youssouf Sabaly all miss out with physical issues.

Villarreal won 2-1 at home to Almeria, but failed to impress in Pacheta's debut as first team coach on Saturday, with the replacement for Quique Setien saying that his side had a lot of work to do.

Midfielder Etienne Capoue backed up Pacheta's assessment of the team, explaining they needed to improve their physical level before the squad can become fully competitive.

Panathinaikos have former Villarreal winger Aitor Cantalapiedra in their squad and he warned the Spanish outfit that they can't take likely a team that may have failed to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League, but who knocked Olympique Marseilles out of the second qualifying round for that tournament.

"We are a quality team, with quality players and they will visit a ground packed with passionate supporters, and we all want to do something big in Europe," he warned.

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