UEFA Europa League - 2020/21 SeasonMatch press kits
|FC Slovan Liberec||Stadion U Nisy - LiberecThursday 22 October 2020|
21.00CET (21.00 local time) Group L - Matchday 1
Slovan Liberec's reward for coming through three UEFA Europa League qualifiers is a place in the group stage and a first ever game against a team from Belgium as they kick off their Group L campaign with a home fixture against Gent.
• While Liberec are new to Belgian opposition, Gent's sole previous encounters with a Czech side came against Zlín in the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup second round, where a 1-0 aggregate win (1-0 h, 0-0 a) took them through.
• Liberec finished fifth in last season's Czech Liga and also reached the cup final, which they lost 2-1 to Sparta Praha. The league placing earned the club a return to UEFA competition after a three-season absence.
• Having kicked off their 2020/21 UEFA Europa League campaign with away wins at Riteriai (5-1) and FCSB (2-0), the Czech side secured a fourth appearance in the competition's group stage by overcoming APOEL 1-0 at home in the play-offs. Liberec came through their group at the first attempt in 2013/14, finishing second behind eventual winners Sevilla before losing in the round of 32 to AZ Alkmaar, but failed to make further progress in both 2015/16 (third place) and 2016/17 (fourth).
• Liberec have lost six of their ten home games in the UEFA Europa League proper, winning only two – against Estoril in 2013/14 (2-1) and Qarabağ in 2016/17 (3-0).
• Runners-up in the abbreviated 2019/20 Belgian First Division A behind Club Brugge, Gent also reached the UEFA Europa League round of 32, where they went out to Roma (0-1 a, 1-1 h) having come through three qualifying rounds before finishing top of a section including Wolfsburg, St-Étienne and Olexandriya.
• Gent are competing in Europe for the sixth successive season, extending the longest sequence in the club's history. They entered the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League under new coach Wim De Decker in the third qualifying round, where they overcame Rapid Wien 2-1 at home, but were then beaten home and away by Dynamo Kyiv in the play-offs (1-2 h, 0-3 a), which booked them a fourth participation in the UEFA Europa League group stage. They have reached the knockout phase twice, in 2016/17 and last season, having missed the cut on their first appearance in 2010/11.
• Gent have won just one of their last nine European away matches (D4 L4) and only two of the nine they have played in the UEFA Europa League group stage (D3 L4), most recently 3-1 at Wolfsburg on Matchday 4 last season.
Links and trivia
• Gent's Cameroon international defender Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui was a Slavia Praha player from 2016 to 2019, winning two league titles and two Czech Cups. He played in six league games against Liberec and never lost (W2 D4).
• Liberec coach Pavel Hoftych was on the Zlín coaching staff when they lost to Gent in the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup.
• Gent's Roman Yaremchuk and Liberec's Taras Kacharaba played together for various Ukrainian national youth teams.