Vardar v Real Sociedad background

Vardar have had some punishing results in Group L, but a late goal on matchday two has given them a small lift as they prepare to take on Real Sociedad.

Vardar are the first Macedonian club to reach a major UEFA group stage
Vardar are the first Macedonian club to reach a major UEFA group stage ©Igor Panevski

Vardar have had some punishing results in Group L, but a late goal on matchday two has given them a small lift as they prepare to take on Real Sociedad.

Previous meetings
• The clubs are meeting for the first time; neither has faced a team from their opponent's home country before.

• The only previous European tie between Macedonian and Spanish sides came in the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup; Celta Vigo beat Pelister 3-0 in Spain and 2-1 in the return leg in Bitola.

Highlights: Rosenborg 3-1 Vardar
Highlights: Rosenborg 3-1 Vardar

Form guide
• Vardar have conceded eight goals in the first two matchdays – more than any other team in this season's group stage.

• Vardar kicked off the group stage with a 5-0 loss to Zenit in Skopje, equalling the margin of their worst-ever UEFA home defeat.

• Real Sociedad have lost five of their last six European away games, including the 3-1 reversal at Zenit last time out (W1 L5).

• Domestic champions for a third season running in 2016/17, Vardar are the first club from FYR Macedonia to appear in the group stage of a major UEFA competition.

• Although Real Sociedad played in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2003/04 and 2013/14, the San Sebastian outfit are making their debut at this phase of the UEFA Europa League.

Highlights: Zenit 3 - 1 Real Sociedad
Highlights: Zenit 3 - 1 Real Sociedad

Trivia and links
• The journey from San Sebastian to Skopje is around 1,900km.

• Real Sociedad conceded the fewest fouls in the first two matchdays: just 13.

• Juan Felipe's brilliant lob at Rosenborg on matchday two was the first group stage goal for a club from FYR Macedonia.

• Misses next match if booked: Jigauri Jambuli (Vardar).

The coaches
• Cedomir Janevski returned to coach Vardar in August 2017, having previously served the Skopje team as a defender from 1982–89. He spent many of the intervening years in Belgium, where he played for and coached Club Brugge among others.

• Real Sociedad boss since 2015, Eusebio Sacristán can complete a full set of major UEFA trophies this season, having won the European Cup and Cup Winners' Cup as a midfielder with Barcelona. He was also Barcelona's assistant coach and B team boss.