Austrian club LASK embark on their first group campaign with a home fixture against reigning Norwegian champions Rosenborg.
Austrian club LASK embark on their first experience of European group stage football with a home fixture against reigning Norwegian champions Rosenborg, both clubs having entered the competition following defeats in the UEFA Champions League play-offs.
• The clubs have never met in UEFA competition, though LASK were convincing victors against Lillestrøm in last season's UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, winning 6-1 on aggregate (4-0 h, 2-1 a) in their only previous tie against Norwegian opposition.
• Rosenborg also met Austrian opponents last season and were heavily beaten twice by Salzburg in their UEFA Europa League group, 0-3 away and 2-5 at home a fortnight later. Those results put their overall record in ten matches against Austrian teams at W3 D1 L6, with defeats in the last four.
• Runners-up to Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga last season, LASK also took part in UEFA competition for the first time since 2000. Having defeated Lillestrøm, they were eliminated in the next round by Beşiktaş on away goals (0-1 a, 2-1 h).
• LASK entered Europe this season in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, where they recorded a 5-2 aggregate victory against Switzerland's Basel (2-1 a, 3- h) but could not repeat the trick in the play-offs, losing home (0-1) and away (1-2) to Club Brugge and therefore entering the UEFA Europa League group stage instead.
• The defeat at home to Club Brugge ended a run of five European games unbeaten on Austrian soil for the Linz club (W4 D1).
• Rosenborg won their tenth Norwegian domestic double last year, adding a 12th cup victory to a 26th league title – both national records. It was their fourth Eliteserien triumph in a row. They also played 14 European fixtures in 2018, ending their campaign in the UEFA Europa League group stage, where they lost their first five matches before a consolation 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig on matchday six. That was only the fourth time they have managed to avoid defeat in 15 UEFA Europa League group stage away fixtures (W1 D3 L11).
• European participants in 30 of the last 31 seasons, this is the Trondheim club's sixth appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage, and they have failed to reach the knockout phase in all five previous attempts. The last time they finished in the top two of a European group came in the 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League.
• Rosenborg kicked off this season in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round, eliminating Linfield (2-0 a, 4-0 h), BATE Borisov (1-2 a, 2-0 h) and Maribor (3-1 a, 3-1 h) before losing to Dinamo Zagreb in the play-offs (0-2 a, 1-1 h).
Links and trivia
• LASK are one of six clubs making their debut this season in the UEFA Europa League group stage, along with Espanyol, Wolves, Olexandriya, Ferencváros and fellow Austrians Wolfsberg.
• Rosenborg have gone ten matches in the UEFA Europa League proper without a win (D3 L7). The competition record, set last season by Apollon Limassol, is 15.
• A former French central defender who started out with home-town club Strasbourg, Valérien Ismaël spent the latter part of his career in Germany, winning the domestic double with both Werder Bremen and Bayern München. His final club, Hannover, gave him his first coaching opportunity in charge of the reserves, and he occupied a similar role at Wolfsburg, which was punctuated by a brief spell as head coach at Nürnberg. After a short spell as the main man at Wolfsburg, from October 2016 to February 2017, he resurfaced in Austria as the new boss of LASK in May 2019.
• After a playing career spent mostly in the Norwegian lower leagues with Vard Haugesund but latterly with local rivals FK Haugesund, Eirik Horneland became an assistant coach with the latter before taking charge of Norway's national Under-19 side in 2015. At the end of the following year he returned to Haugesund as head coach, where he spent two seasons, the second of which brought a fourth-placed finish in the Eliteserien and earned him, at 43, the plum job at reigning champions Rosenborg, where he replaced Dutch interim boss Rini Coolen.