Slovan Bratislava welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to the Slovakian capital holding a one-point advantage over their English visitors.
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Slovan Bratislava welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to the Slovakian capital for the first time holding a one-point advantage over their English visitors, who have won all four of their European away games this season.
• The Slovakian champions scored twice in added time to beat Beşiktaş 4-2 at home on Matchday 1 before coming from behind twice to snatch a 2-2 draw at Braga. Wolves, beaten 1-0 at home by the Portuguese side on their group stage debut, struck very late through defender Willy Boly to win 1-0 in Istanbul on Matchday 2.
• While Wolves have never faced a Slovakian club in UEFA competition, Slovan have come up against English opponents ten times before. All of their five trips to England have resulted in defeat but at home their record is W2 D2 L1, the loss having come in the most recent of those fixtures, 0-2 against Chelsea in the first round of the 1997/98 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup – which their conquerors went on to win.
• Slovan's ninth Slovakian league title since independence – and 21st national championship in all – was won at a canter in 2018/19, with a final victory margin of 17 points. Their European campaign, however, ended in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round at the hands of Rapid Wien.
• This term the club from the Slovakian capital lost a penalty shoot-out against Montenegro's Sutjeska in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round, but won both legs of their first two UEFA Europa League qualifying ties against Feronikeli and Dundalk before stunning Greek double winners PAOK on away goals (1-0 h, 2-3 a) to reach the group stage for the third time. Their previous two participations, in 2011/12 and 2014/15, yielded just one point.
• Defeated in nine successive UEFA Europa League group stage games, following a 0-0 draw at home to Paris Saint-Germain on Matchday 3 of the 2011/12 campaign, Slovan stopped the rot in this season's opener against Beşiktaş. Since the 2014/15 group stage they have won ten of their 14 home European matches, losing just one.
• In their first season after promotion to the Premier League, Wolves finished seventh in 2018/19 to qualify for European competition for the first time since they lost in the 1980/81 UEFA Cup first round to PSV Eindhoven.
• The West Midlanders' best European experience by some distance came in the inaugural UEFA Cup of 1971/72, when they went all the way to the final before losing 3-2 on aggregate to English rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
• Wolves won all six of their qualifying matches this season, ousting Crusaders of Northern Ireland, Pyunik of Armenia and, in the play-offs, Torino. They have scored 11 goals in their four away games this term, conceding just two.
Links and trivia
• Slovan's Rabiu Ibrahim came through the youth ranks of Sporting CP when Wolves midfielder João Moutinho was an established first-teamer with the Lisbon club.
• Slovan boss Ján Kozák had a brief experience as a player in England with Wolves' local rivals West Bromwich Albion in 2006.
• Although Slovan's run of nine successive defeats in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, ended on Matchday 1, it remains a competition record.
• Wolves are one of six UEFA Europa League group stage debutants this season; the others are Espanyol, Ferencváros, Olexandriya and two Austrian clubs, LASK and Wolfsberg.
• The assistant coach in Slovan's runaway 2018/19 Slovakian title triumph, his fourth season in the role, Kozák was promoted to the position of head coach in the summer as a replacement for Martin Ševela and duly succeeded in fulfilling his first assignment by steering the club through to the UEFA Europa League group stage. Capped 25 times by Slovakia, and a participant at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the former midfielder won four Slovakian league titles – one each with Košice and Slovan and the other two with MFK Petržalka.
• A former goalkeeper who was in Portugal's UEFA EURO 2008 squad but never won a senior cap, Nuno Espírito Santo was mostly a back-up during his playing career but as a manager he is very much at the forefront, having emerged as a studious, progressive coach during spells at Valencia, Porto and, since May 2017, Wolves. He first made his mark by taking Portuguese provincial club Rio Ave to two cup finals and into Europe before shining in Spain during an 18-month stint at Mestalla. He led Wolves into the Premier League in his first season and into the UEFA Europa League in his second.
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.