Madrid, Sep 13 (IANS) Three Spanish sides are in Europa League football action on Thursday with Real Sociedad and Villarreal kicking off their campaigns at home while Athletic Club Bilbao travel to Germany.
Villarreal are first in action and face Astana in the Estadio de la Ceramica on the back of a 3-1 win at home to Betis which began their season with two defeats, reports Xinhua news agency.
Club President Francisco Roig criticised a section of the home supporters for booing their side at the weekend and it will be interesting to see the atmosphere as Villarreal aim to go further than last season’s disappointing exit to Roma in the last 32 of the tournament.
Real Sociedad entertain Norwegian side Rosenborg as the joint leaders of the Liga Santander with three wins in three games and after scoring 10 goals in the process.
With a league game at home to Real Madrid on Sunday, coach Eusebio Sacristan will have to weigh the options of rotating his starting 11 in order to ensure some of his players are fresh for what looks like a crunch game at the weekend or fielding his strongest 11 to get off to a flying start in Europe.
Finally, central defender Aymeric Laporte is set for his 200th appearance for Athletic Club Bilbao as they kick off their European campaign with arguably their toughest game of the group stage when they travel to face Hertha Berlin.
Coach ‘Cuco’ Ziganda is so far unbeaten after replacing Ernesto Valverde at San Mames and has decided to leave first team regulars Benat and Unai Nunez at home for their European debut as he continues a policy of squad rotations.