Wolfsberg and İstanbul Başakşehir meet again in Graz a fortnight after the Turkish side claimed their first victory of Group J, winning 1-0 at home.
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Wolfsberg and İstanbul Başakşehir meet again in Graz a fortnight after the Turkish side claimed their first victory of Group J, winning 1-0 with a first European goal from İrfan Kahveci 12 minutes from time. The two clubs both have four points from three games, one fewer than Roma and two more than Borussia Mönchengladbach in what has become a hotly contested battle for the two qualifying spots.
• 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, on their group stage debut, won at Borussia Mönchengladbach by the same score. A pair of 1-1 home draws followed a fortnight later, İstanbul Başakşehir conceding a late equaliser against Gladbach and Wolfsberg coming from behind against Roma.
• The Matchday 3 fixture broke new ground for both clubs, with İstanbul Başakşehir meting Austrian opposition in a UEFA fixture for the first time and Wolfsberg also experiencing a first competitive outing against a Turkish club.
• 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's overall European record is now W3 D1 L3.
• 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 one of their 11 European away fixtures (D3 L7), 2-1 at Ludogorets on Matchday 5 of that 2017/18 campaign. They have failed to score in the last three – defeats at Burnley, Olympiacos and Roma.
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.
• Lukas Schmitz (Wolfsberg) and Eljero Elia (İstanbul Başakşehir) 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.
• 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.
• 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.