UEFA Europa League - 2020/21 SeasonMatch press kits
|Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC||Bloomfield - Tel AvivThursday 22 October 2020|
21.00CET (22.00 local time) Group I - Matchday 1
Two clubs that began their 2020/21 European campaign in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round meet on Matchday 1 of UEFA Europa League Group I as Israeli champions Maccabi Tel-Aviv entertain their Azerbaijani counterparts Qarabağ.
• The clubs are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition.
• Maccabi's only previous experience of opponents from Azerbaijan was in the second qualifying round of the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League, when they eliminated Xäzär Länkäran (3-1 h, 0-0 a), while Qarabağ were also successful in their only previous match-up with an Israeli side, overcoming Maccabi Haifa on away goals in the first round of the 1999 UEFA Intertoto Cup (2-1 a, 0-1 h).
• Maccabi made up for a disappointingly brief European campaign last season – eliminated on entry in the qualifying phase of both competitions – by retaining their Israeli league title in style to make it 23 championship wins in all. A third appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage beckoned this term after they won qualifying ties against Riga (2-0 h), Sūduva (3-0 a) and Dinamo Brest (1-0 h), but they met their match in the play-offs, losing both legs to Salzburg (1-2 h, 1-3 a).
• The Israeli champions are therefore making their fifth appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage. They have only progressed to the knockout phase once before, in 2013/14, and struggled in particular on their most recent appearance, in 2017/18, failing to score in their first five matches before signing off with a consolation 1-0 win at Villarreal.
• Maccabi have won only three of their 13 home games in the UEFA Europa League proper (D5 L5) – against Eintracht Frankfurt (4-2) and Bordeaux (1-0) in 2013/14 and Dundalk (2-1) in 2016/17 – and have never prevailed in their first home fixture of the group stage (D3 L1).
• Qarabağ were crowned champions of Azerbaijan for the seventh season running in 2019/20 – and eighth overall – having held an eight-point lead over second-placed Neftçi when the Premyer Liqa was abandoned in the early spring. Their sixth successive European group campaign ended, like all the others, in the autumn when they finished third in UEFA Europa League Group A behind Sevilla and APOEL.
• This season, as in 2019/20, Qarabağ began their European journey in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round, but were eliminated two rounds later by Norwegian champions Molde in a penalty shoot-out after a goalless draw in Baku. They made amends by beating Legia Warszawa 3-0 away in the UEFA Europa League play-off to reach the group stage for the sixth time. They have yet to finish in the top two.
• Qarabağ's record outside Azerbaijan in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W4 D1 L10, two of those wins having come in their last five matches – 1-0 at Vorskla Poltava in 2018/19 and 4-1 at Dudelange last season.
Links and trivia
• Qarabağ coach Gurban Gurbanov has been in charge for every one of the club's previous 30 matches in the UEFA Europa League group stage, while his opposite number Giorgos Donis's experience of this juncture of the competition is limited to six matches with Cypriot side APOEL in 2013/14.
• Maccabi forward Etey Shechter scored for Israel in a 1-1 draw at home to Azerbaijan in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier on 7 September 2013. Qarabağ's Gara Garayev came on as a half-time substitute for the visitors.