Skënderbeu v Partizan background

Skënderbeu will bid to spark early birthday celebrations for their coach Ilir Daja as they welcome Partizan in UEFA Europa League Group B.

Skënderbeu celebrate a Group B goal
Skënderbeu celebrate a Group B goal ©AFP/Getty Images

Skënderbeu will bid to spark early birthday celebrations for coach Ilir Daja as they welcome Partizan with the teams each on one point in UEFA Europa League Group B.

Previous meetings
• These sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, and it is Skënderbeu's first encounter with Serbian opponents.

• Partizan's only past tie against an Albanian team came in the first round of the 1987/88 UEFA Cup, when they went out to Flamurtari – losing 2-0 away and winning 2-1 at home.

Highlights: Skenderbëu 1-1 Young Boys
Highlights: Skenderbëu 1-1 Young Boys

Form guide
• Skënderbeu are unbeaten in five European home games this season (W3 D2), but have not won any of their last four UEFA matches (D3 L1).

• Partizan are unbeaten in six UEFA away games (W2 D4) – their home record during the same spell is W1 D2 L3.

• Albanian Cup runners-up last term, Skënderbeu were the first Albanian side to contest a major UEFA group stage when they featured in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League.

• Serbian league and cup winners in 2016/17, Partizan have reached the UEFA Europa League group stage for the fifth time in the competition's current incarnation, but are yet to progress to the round of 32.

Highlights: Partizan 2-3 Dynamo Kyiv
Highlights: Partizan 2-3 Dynamo Kyiv

Trivia and links
• The journey from Belgrade to Elbasan is around 690km.

• Partizan are the most-fouled team in the group stage, with 47 infringements against them in the first two matchdays.

• Skënderbeu coach Daja turns 51 the day after this match.

• Misses next match if booked: Ognjen Ožegović (Partizan).

The coaches
• Appointed at the start of 2017, Ilir Daja led Skënderbeu to a losing appearance in the Albanian Cup final but then steered them into this group stage. A former midfielder with Tirana, he has guided Elbasan and Dinamo Tirana to domestic championships as a coach.

• Miroslav Djukić was assigned a second stint as Partizan coach in June 2017, having occupied the helm in 2007. The 48-times capped Yugoslavia sweeper played in Spain with Deportivo and Valencia, and spent much of the last decade coaching there too.