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Genk eye last 32 with Sporting struggling

Sporting Clube de Portugal will have former KRC Genk coach Frank Vercauteren in charge as they welcome the Belgian outfit with both sides at opposite ends of Group G.

New Sporting coach Frank Vercauteren (centre) had a watching brief on matchday three
New Sporting coach Frank Vercauteren (centre) had a watching brief on matchday three ©AFP/Getty Images

Frank Vercauteren presides over his first game as Sporting Clube de Portugal coach – against his former side KRC Genk – with the Portuguese outfit struggling to stay afloat in Group G.

• Genk moved on to seven points at the top of Group G thanks to their 2-1 victory against Sporting last time out. A Brian Hamalainen own-goal had given Sporting an early lead, but Genk were soon level through Benjamin De Ceulaer, Elyaniv Barda completing the turnaround with two minutes left.

• Genk can qualify for the round of 32 with two games to spare if they win and FC Basel 1893 fail to defeat Videoton FC. Sporting, who last season became the first ever side to secure their progress before matchday four, will be eliminated if they lose or draw and Videoton win.

Previous meetings
• The sides met for the first time in UEFA competition on matchday three.

• Genk's success was their first in five games against Portuguese clubs, with their record now reading W1 D1 L3 (W1 D1 L1 at home – W0 D0 L2 in Portugal).

• Sporting's nine games against Belgian opponents have ended W3 D2 L4 (W3 D0 L1 in Lisbon – W0 D2 L3 in Belgium). Prior to matchday three, their most recent meetings with a Belgian side were a 3-1 loss at KAA Gent in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage, having previously won the home fixture 5-1.

Match background
• Genk have won just one of their last nine European away games, losing six and drawing two.

• Sporting are unbeaten in 14 UEFA fixtures (12 wins and two draws) at the José Alvalade Stadium.

• Sporting are competing in this group stage for the fifth time (and the fourth time in as many seasons). They have never failed to progress to the knockout stage.

Team facts
• Vercauteren will be at the Sporting helm on matchday three following his appointment on 24 October. A UEFA Cup winner as a player with RSC Anderlecht in 1983, Vercauteren guided Genk to the Belgian title in 2010/11. The former Belgium coach, who also won back-to-back Belgian championships with Anderlecht between 2005 and 2007, has been without a job since leaving Al Jazira Club in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year. Ricardo Sá Pinto was dismissed after a 3-0 loss at Videoton on matchday two, with Oceano da Cruz taking temporary charge in his place.

• De Ceulaer is one of the top scorers in the group stage, level on three goals with Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC's Shimon Abuhazira, Liverpool FC's Jonjo Shelvey, SSC Napoli's Eduardo Vargas and BSC Young Boys' Raúl Bobadilla.

• Sporting's matchday three defeat at Genk was their 150th UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League game. The Portuguese club's goal in Belgium was their first in this season's group stage.

• Barda's winner against Sporting was Genk's 100th goal in UEFA club competition.

• Genk's coach since August 2011, when he succeeded Vercauteren, has been Dutchman Mario Been, most famous for his work as a midfielder – and then coach – with Feyenoord and their satellite club SBV Excelsior. He led NEC Nijmegen through the group stage of the 2008/09 UEFA Cup, but lost out to KAA Gent in the 2010/11 play-offs when he was coaching Feyenoord.

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