Two clubs of contrasting European pedigree meet in Graz as group stage debutants Wolfsberg host experienced campaigners Roma.
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Two clubs of contrasting European pedigree meet in the Austrian city of Graz as UEFA Europa League group stage debutants Wolfsberg host experienced campaigners Roma, both having kicked off their Group J campaigns in fanfare style with stunning 4-0 victories.
• While Roma were seeing off İstanbul Başakşehirspor in the Italian capital, Edin Džeko, Nicolò Zaniolo and Justin Kluivert scoring after the interval to supplement a first-half own goal, Wolfsberg enjoyed a remarkable group stage premiere. The Austrian newcomers inflicted a record home European defeat on Borussia Mönchengladbach thanks to strikes from Shon Weissman, Mario Leitgeb (two) and Marcel Ritzmaier.
• This is Wolfsberg's first UEFA encounter against an Italian club.
• Roma are undefeated in four matches against Austrian opposition, scoring four goals to win each of their two previous away fixtures – 4-1 against Wacker Innsbruck in the first round of the 1992/93 UEFA Cup and 4-2 against Austria Wien in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League group stage, Džeko scoring twice.
• Promoted to the Austrian top flight for the first time in 2012, Wolfsberg claimed their highest ever Bundesliga finish in 2018/19, taking third place behind champions Salzburg and runners-up LASK.
• The club's only previous European campaign, in 2015/16, ended with a comprehensive defeat by Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round (0-1 h, 0-5 a), though they had been victorious in both legs of their inaugural tie, beating Shakhtyor Soligorsk of Belarus 1-0 away and 2-0 at home.
• Roma finished sixth in last season's Serie A, missing out on UEFA Champions League qualification for the first time in six years. They were defeated 4-3 on aggregate after extra time by Porto in the 2018/19 round of 16 having reached the previous season's semi-finals.
• This is the Giallorossi's fifth participation in the UEFA Europa League proper but only their third appearance in the group stage. They have won their group on both previous occasions, in 2009/10 and 2016/17, reaching the round of 16 in the latter campaign.
• Roma are 12 games unbeaten in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W8 D4). Their only away defeat in a group came on matchday one of the competition's inaugural season in 2009/10, when they lost 2-0 at Basel. Since then they have won two and drawn three. The Giallorossi have scored four goals in five of their last ten matches in the competition.
Links and trivia
• Wolfsberg's Nemanja Rnić and Roma's Aleksandar Kolarov are both Serbian internationals, though the former’s third and last appearance, in March 2008, came two months before the latter won the first of his 86 caps.
• Roma's Henrikh Mkhitaryan played for Dortmund against Wolfsberg in both legs of that 2015/16 UEFA Europa League qualifier, bagging a 13-minute hat-trick to complete the scoring in the second leg.
• Both clubs' official crests feature the image of a wolf.
• Wolfsberg are one of six clubs appearing in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time this season, the others being Espanyol, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ferencváros, Olexandriya and fellow Austrian side LASK.
• With 2018/19 boss Christian Ilzer having left Wolfsberg for Austria Wien, Gerhard Struber was appointed as the club's new head coach in May – four months after he had left his previous job at Liefering, the feeder club of serial Austrian champions Salzburg. A former Salzburg player, with whom he won the Bundesliga title in 1997, Struber began his coaching career in the club's youth academy and also had spells on the first team staff before being appointed as Liefering's joint head coach in June 2017 and taking sole charge 12 months later.
• Paulo Fonseca was appointed as the new Roma head coach on 11 June 2019. He arrived in the Eternal City having won the Ukrainian league and cup double in each of his three seasons with Shakhtar Donetsk, where he had replaced the long-serving Mircea Lucescu in 2016. A central defender of modest repute, he paid his dues as a coach in his native Portugal, first making his mark at Paços de Ferreira then joining Porto in 2013 before winning his first major trophy, the 2015/16 Portuguese Cup, with Braga.