Standard Liège's sixth UEFA Europa League group stage campaign begins with a home fixture against a resolute Vitória SC.
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Standard Liège's sixth UEFA Europa League group stage campaign begins with a home fixture against a resolute Vitória SC side who have come through six qualifying matches without conceding a goal.
• It is 24 years since the clubs' one previous European engagement, a UEFA Cup first-round tie that the Portuguese side won, a 3-1 home win in Guimaraes preceding a goalless draw in Liege.
• Standard are undefeated in four games at home to Portuguese opposition (W2 D2), while Vitória are yet to win or score in three visits to Belgium (D2 L1). This is the first time either club has faced an opponent from the other team's country in the UEFA Europa League.
• Standard's third place in the 2018/19 Belgian league earned them direct qualification for this season's group stage.
• The Liege club have competed in the UEFA Europa League group stage in five previous campaigns, but have only once made further progress, in 2011/12, when they went through to the round of 16. They were also quarter-finalists in the inaugural 2009/10 season after switching over mid-campaign from the UEFA Champions League. Last season they failed to get into the knockout phase despite picking up ten points in a group that contained Sevilla, Krasnodar and Akhisar.
• Standard have won only six of their 15 UEFA Europa League home group stage matches (D5 L4), but triumphed in all three in Liege last season and are now unbeaten in nine European home fixtures (W5 D4) since losing 0-3 to Feyenoord in December 2014.
• Fifth in the Portuguese Liga last season, Vitória SC qualified for their fifth European campaign this decade and first since 2017/18, when they finished bottom of their UEFA Europa League group.
• Qualifying wins against Jeunesse Esch (1-0 a, 4-0 h), Ventspils (3-0 a, 6-0 h) and FCSB (0-0 a, 1-0 h) have enabled the Guimaraes club to make a third appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage. They have yet to make further progress in the competition, however, finishing third in their 2014/15 section. Back in 2005/06 they also finished bottom of their UEFA Cup group.
• Vitória were without a win in 13 UEFA away matches (D3 L10) – a run stretching back to a 1-0 victory at Wisła Kraków in September 2005 – before they defeated Jeunesse in this season's second qualifying round. Their away record in eight UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group games is D2 L6, with defeats in each of the last four.
Links and trivia
• Standard's Portuguese striker Orlando Sá began his career with Vitória SC's local rivals Braga.
• Standard's Mehdi Carcela scored three goals in 29 matches for Benfica in 2015/16, appearing as a substitute in a 1-0 away win against Vitória SC in the league. Vitória's Ola John played with Carcela at Benfica during the first half of that season before moving on loan to English outfit Reading, where he was a team-mate of Orlando Sá.
• Standard coach Michel Preud'homme spent the last five seasons of his playing career at Benfica, winning the Portuguese Cup in 1995/96.
• Vitória's coach Ivo Vieira was in charge of Nacional's Under-19s in 2008/09, when Standard's Duje Čop played for the Madeira club's first team.
• Standard still hold the record for the fewest goals conceded in a UEFA Europa League group – one in their 2011/12 campaign. Only Salzburg, in 2017/18, have since matched it.
• A former goalkeeper who played 58 times for the Belgian national team, Preud'homme started out with Standard, winning two league titles with the club, before making further waves with Mechelen, notably in their European Cup Winners' Cup triumph of 1988/89. He has enjoyed similar success as a coach, winning trophies with every club he has managed, most recently the 2015/16 Belgian league with Club Brugge. This is his third spell in charge at Standard, his return in May 2018 coming after ten years away.
• An unexpected sixth-placed finish with Moreirense in the 2018/19 Portuguese Liga – in his only season with the club – earned Ivo Vieira a summer move to a Vitória SC side that finished on the same number of points but one place higher. A native of Madeira, he spent the whole of his playing career on the island with Nacional, which is where he also started his coaching path. Indeed, he did not work in mainland Portugal until May 2016, when he was handed the coaching reins at second-tier Aves. He subsequently took charge of Académica Coimbra and Estoril.