UEFA Europa League - 2020/21 SeasonMatch press kits
|FK Crvena zvezda||Stadion Rajko Mitić - BelgradeThursday 3 December 2020|
18.55CET (18.55 local time) Group L - Matchday 5
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim|
The top two teams in Group L meet in Belgrade on Matchday 5, with Hoffenheim already through to the knockout phase and in-form Crvena zvezda seemingly on the brink of joining them.
• With a maximum haul of 12 points, Hoffenheim have booked their place in the round of 32 and will secure top spot if they avoid defeat in the Serbian capital. Crvena zvezda, on nine points and with wins in their last three matches, will qualify alongside the German club with a draw – or if Slovan Liberec (three points) fail to win at eliminated Gent (no points) in the other Matchday 5 fixture – and could still finish first if they beat them.
• Hoffenheim's first UEFA encounter against a team from Serbia was a productive one as they overcame Crvena zvezda 2-0 on Group L's opening night, Austrian international Christoph Baumgartner breaking the deadlock on his European debut before Israeli striker Munas Dabbur sealed victory in added time with his 25th European goal.
• Crvena zvezda are very familiar with German opposition, having now faced them on 34 occasions, including 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. Their home record against German teams nevertheless remains W10 D3 L3.
• 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-final (2-1 a, 2-2 h) en route to lifting the trophy.
• 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, 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.
• Unbeaten at home in 13 European qualifying matches over the last four seasons (W9 D4), Crvena zvezda have now won two home games in a UEFA group stage for the first time, beating Liberec 5-1 and Gent 2-1. In the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, their record in Belgrade is now W3 D2 L1, with Arsenal the only team to beat them there.
• 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. Their qualification this season means that the club will be playing springtime European football for the first time.
• Hoffenheim have scored in every one of their 18 European fixtures. They had never recorded a victory outside Germany in seven attempts (D3 L4) until Matchday 2's 4-1 success at Gent. A 2-0 win at Liberec last time out made it two away wins in a row.
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.
• 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.
• 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).