Wolfsberg are enjoying a dream debut as they visit İstanbul Başakşehir, who have found the Group J going tough to date.
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İstanbul Başakşehir have made a disappointing start to Group J and are three points behind Austrian side Wolfsberg, who conversely are enjoying a dream debut on their first appearance in a UEFA group stage.
• The teams could hardly have had more contrasting fortunes on Matchday 1 as the Turkish club lost 4-0 at Roma while an inspired Wolfsberg won at Borussia Mönchengladbach by the same score. A pair of 1-1 draws followed a fortnight later, İstanbul Başakşehir conceding a late equaliser at home to Gladbach and Wolfsberg coming from behind against Roma.
• This match breaks new ground for both clubs, with İstanbul Başakşehir meting Austrian opposition for the first time and Wolfsberg also experiencing a first outing against a Turkish club.
• This is İstanbul Başakşehir's fifth successive European campaign, having made their UEFA competition bow in 2015/16. They ensured a return this term by finishing second to Galatasaray in a closely fought Süper Lig title race.
• Home (0-1) and away (0-2) defeats by Olympiacos in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round put İstanbul Başakşehir into the UEFA Europa League group stage for the second time. Their previous campaign, in 2017/18, ended after six matches as their tally of eight points left them in third place behind Braga and Ludogorets.
• The Istanbul club have won just two of their 11 European home fixtures (D5 L4), scoring nine goals and conceding ten. They are undefeated at home, however, in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W1 D3).
• 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.
• Wolfsberg are yet to lose in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W1 D1).
Links and trivia
• İstanbul Başakşehir's Fredrik Gulbrandsen played for Salzburg until this summer, winning the Bundesliga title in each of his three seasons. In six appearances against Wolfsberg the Norwegian scored once.
• İstanbul Başakşehir coach Okan Buruk played an important role in Turkey's 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off victory against Austria, which paved the way for his country's third place in the Korea/Japan finals. Buruk scored the only goal in the first leg in Vienna and was on target again in a 5-0 win in Istanbul.
• Eljero Elia (İstanbul Başakşehir) and Lukas Schmitz (Wolfsberg) were team-mates at Werder Bremen from 2012–14.
• 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.
• A former midfielder who spent most of his playing career at Galatasaray, with whom he won seven Turkish league titles plus the UEFA Cup/UEFA Super Cup double in 2000, Okan Buruk also helped Turkey to third place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. İstanbul Başakşehir became his seventh club in as many seasons as a coach when he succeeded Beşiktaş-bound Abdullah Avcı in the summer of 2019. His profile had risen considerably a year earlier when he led unheralded Akhisar Belediyespor to Turkish Cup success with a 3-2 final victory against Fenerbahçe.
• 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.
The FootballPeople weeks take place from 10 to 24 October 2019 and are organised by UEFA's social responsibility partner Fare. The weeks are a global campaign aimed at tackling discrimination and celebrating diversity in football. The UEFA Europa League is offering its full support to the FootballPeople weeks; teams will line up for a mixed photo with the referees, while an #EqualGame hashtag will also be on display. Videos will be played on giant screens at stadiums across Europe, and child mascots will be wearing #FootballPeople t-shirts. UEFA's collaboration with the Fare network's FootballPeople weeks has been running since 2001. The aim of this initiative fits in perfectly with the goals of #EqualGame, which is looking to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility.