UEFA Europa League - 2020/21 SeasonMatch press kits
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||Rhein-Neckar-Arena - SinsheimThursday 22 October 2020|
21.00CET (21.00 local time) Group L - Matchday 1
|FK Crvena zvezda|
Hoffenheim return to European competition in UEFA Europa League Group L with a home fixture against a Crvena zvezda side who will hope to draw positively on their experience of the last two seasons in the UEFA Champions League.
• While this is Hoffenheim's first UEFA encounter against a team from Serbia, Crvena zvezda are very familiar with German opposition, having faced them on 33 previous occasions, most recently last season when they were overpowered by eventual winners Bayern München in the UEFA Champions League group stage, losing 3-0 in Munich and 6-0 in Belgrade. They did, however, do the double over Köln three seasons ago in their only previous UEFA Europa League encounters with a Bundesliga club, winning both group stage matches 1-0.
• Crvena zvezda lost the 1979 UEFA Cup final to German opponents, going down 2-1 on aggregate to Borussia Mönchengladbach (1-1 h, 0-1 a), but famously beat Bayern in the 1991 European Cup semi-finals (2-1 a, 2-2 h) en route to lifting the trophy.
• Sixth place in the 2019/20 Bundesliga secured a return to European football for Hoffenheim after a one-year absence, putting them in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the second time.
• Hoffenheim failed to progress from their group on their previous appearance in the competition, finishing fourth on five points in 2017/18 in a group containing Braga, Ludogorets and İstanbul Başakşehir. They also finished bottom of their UEFA Champions League group the following season with three points, behind Manchester City, Lyon and Shakhtar Donetsk.
• Hoffenheim have scored in all 14 of their European fixtures but have won only one of them, 3-1 at home to İstanbul Başakşehir on Matchday 3 in 2017/18, losing eight. Their home record in Europe is W1 D2 L4.
• The 2019/20 season brought Crvena zvezda their 30th national title, completing a hat-trick of Serbian Super Liga successes. The Belgrade giants also reached the UEFA Champions League group stage for the second successive season, again finishing in fourth place, behind Bayern München, Tottenham Hotspur and Olympiacos.
• The 1990/91 European champions' bid to return to the UEFA Champions League group stage this season under new head coach Dejan Stanković ended in the third qualifying round with a penalty shoot-out defeat in Cyprus against Omonoia, but a 2-1 win at Ararat-Armenia in the UEFA Europa League play-offs ensured a fourth successive autumn of European group stage football. In 2017/18 Crvena zvezda reached the UEFA Europa League proper for the first time and finished runners-up in their group to Arsenal before losing to CSKA Moskva (0-0 h, 0-1 a) in the round of 32.
• Crvena zvezda posted clean sheets in all three of their away fixtures in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League group stage (W1 D2), but all six of their group games on the road in the UEFA Champions League since then have ended in defeat, with 27 goals conceded and just two scored.
Links and trivia
• Hoffenheim's Mijat Gaćinović is a Serbian international who began his career with Vojvodina (2013–15), where he played with current Crvena zvezda trio Zoran Popović, Radovan Pankov and Mirko Ivanić. Gaćinović's international team-mates in the Crvena zvezda squad include Nemanja Milunović, Milan Rodić, Marko Gobeljić, Milan Gajić, Aleksandar Katai and Milan Pavkov.
• Hoffenheim's Israeli striker Munas Dabbur scored both of Salzburg's goals in a 2-2 draw against Crvena zvezda in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League play-off second leg, El Fardou Ben Nabouhane replying with the two for the Serbian side that enabled them to win the tie on away goals and reach the group stage for the first time. Hoffenheim's Diadie Samassékou was in the Salzburg starting XI for both legs.
• Miloš Degenek, Crvena zvezda's Australian defender, played in Germany for 2. Bundesliga side 1860 München in 2015/16 and the first half of the following season before moving to Japan.
• Kasim Adams Nunu (Hoffenheim) and Richmond Boakye (Crvena zvezda) are fellow Ghana internationals.
• Hoffenheim coach Sebastian Hoeness was on the Bayern coaching staff when they beat Crvena zvezda last season.
• Crvena zvezda are one of six former European Cup winners in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage, the others being Benfica (Group D), PSV Eindhoven (E), Celtic and AC Milan (H), and Feyenoord (K).