Both Villarreal and Lille are in with a chance of making the knockout stages – a victory for either would guarantee a first appearance in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Villarreal coach Manuel Luis Pellegrini is under no illusion about the scale of the task facing his team tonight.

“I think we will need to play extremely well to beat Lille as they are well-organised and hard-working,” he said.

“But perhaps because a draw is not necessarily enough for them to qualify, they may have to play a more open game. I have always been confident since the group draw that we have the ability to qualify for the knockout stage – but now comes the time to prove it.

“It’s great to have Diego (Forlan) back given all he’s done for the team since arriving but I wish he had managed to play a couple of games before this one.”

Forlán will replace Luciano Figueroa and Juan Roman Riquelme who missed the goalless draw against Manchester United through injury, also returns.

Lille coach Claude Puel was in confident mood ahead of tonight’s encounter.

“The first thing to be clear about is that neither the occasion nor Villarreal hold any fears for us,” said Puel. “This has been a very tough group, but I feel that we have found our rhythm and we have matured as a group.

“Villarreal are certainly difficult to play against because they play as a team and there is a group of high-quality players there. The key to their play is that [Juan Roman] Riquelme likes a lot of possession and Villarreal generally like to control the game by keeping hold of the ball.

“This experience is, I suppose, like a little cup final for us but we are conscious that there is another one taking place in Lisbon where the result could also influence our final position in the group.”

In an intriguing group, all four teams can still reach the knockout rounds.

Villarreal need just a draw, while a point would also be enough for Lille should Benfica hold Manchester United. If there is a result in Lisbon, Lille will require a victory to go through.

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