UEFA Europa League - 2018/19 SeasonMatch press kits
|Akhisar Belediyespor||Akhisar Stadyumu - ManisaThursday 13 December 2018|
18.55CET (20.55 local time) Group J - Matchday 6
|R. Standard de Liège|
Akhisar Belediyespor have endured an uncomfortable debut season in the UEFA Europa League, losing all of their first five Group J fixtures, but will be eager to avoid a whitewash as they bow out against a Standard Liège side still in contention for a place in the knockout phase.
• Akhisar have been close to gaining a first European point, with four of their five defeats coming by one-goal margins including both at home (0-1 v Krasnodar, 2-3 v Sevilla), but they need something more against Standard to avoid becoming only the fifth club to lose all six games in a UEFA Europa League group.
• Standard have nine points, level with Sevilla, but their chances of progress are compromised by an unfavourable head-to-head record which means that even if they win at Akhisar, qualification remains out of their hands. To qualify they must pick up more points than Sevilla manage at home to Krasnodar, or win and hope that their Russian rivals lose in Seville either by 4-0 or a margin of five or more goals. If neither of those scenarios comes to pass, Standard will be eliminated.
• Akhisar's first away fixture in Europe, on matchday two, resulted in a 2-1 defeat in Liege, stretching Standard's unbeaten run against Turkish opponents to four games, their two previous fixtures on Turkish soil having brought a win and a draw.
• Akhisar qualified for their first European campaign – and an automatic place in the UEFA Europa League group stage – with a shock 3-2 win over Fenerbahçe in the 2018 Turkish Cup final. They finished 11th in the league – nine places and 30 points behind their illustrious Istanbul opponents.
• Defeated in their first five European games, Akhisar are one of three clubs yet to record a point in this season's UEFA Europa League; the others are Rosenborg (Group B) and fellow group stage debutants Dudelange (F).
• Akhisar have conceded 14 goals in their first five matches; only Dudelange (16) have let in more.
• Standard enjoyed a fruitful 2017/18 season, finishing runners-up in the Belgian league and winning an eighth domestic cup. Their hopes of a first UEFA Champions League group campaign in nine years ended at the hands of Ajax in this season's third qualifying round – their point of entry – with a 5-2 aggregate defeat, sending them instead into the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• The Liege club have competed in the UEFA Europa League group stage in four previous campaigns, but have only once made further progress, in 2011/12, when they went on to the round of 16. They were quarter-finalists in the inaugural 2009/10 season after switching over mid-campaign from the UEFA Champions League.
• Standard have won only one of their last 11 UEFA Europa League group games away from home, losing eight including both this season, the first of them, 5-1 at Sevilla, constituting the club's joint heaviest European defeat outside Belgium.
Links and trivia
• Akhisar are one of five clubs making their debut this season in the UEFA Europa League proper. The other four are Dudelange, Jablonec, Spartak Trnava and fellow European first-timers Sarpsborg.
• Standard's Luis Pedro Cavanda had spells in Turkey at both Trabzonspor (2015/16) and Galatasaray (2016–18).
• Cihat Arslan was appointed as Akhisar's new head coach on 25 September, succeeding Safet Sušić. It is his second spell at the club, the first lasting for the duration of the 2015/16 season when he led Akhisar to an eighth-placed finish in the Turkish Süper Lig. A former defender who was a national champion early in his playing career with Galatasaray, he has coached a host of Turkish clubs, most recently Karşiyaka and Adanaspor.
• A former goalkeeper who played 58 times for Belgium, Michel Preud'homme started out with Standard, winning two league titles before making further waves with Mechelen, notably in their European Cup Winners' Cup triumph of 1988/89. He has enjoyed similar success as a coach, winning trophies with every club he has managed, most recently the 2015/16 Belgian league with Club Brugge. This is his third spell in charge at Standard.