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First date for Anji and Genk

FC Anji Makhachkala and KRC Genk had contrasting fortunes at this stage of last season's UEFA Europa League as they gear up for their maiden meeting in the round of 32.

Struggling domestically, Anji are faring a lot better in continental competition
Struggling domestically, Anji are faring a lot better in continental competition ©AFP/Getty Images

Having both made it through the group stage for the second season in succession, FC Anji Makhachkala and KRC Genk hope the UEFA Europa League round of 32 is not the end of their road.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition and this is Anji's first encounter with Belgian opponents.

• Genk's only previous game against a Russian team ended in a 3-2 defeat by FC Dinamo Moskva in the 1997 UEFA Intertoto Cup group stage.

• This will be the 40th fixture between Russian and Belgian clubs in UEFA competition, with the Russian sides boasting the better record in those fixtures – W20 D5 L14 (W14 D2 L4 in Russia – W6 D3 L10 in Belgium).

Match background
• Anji made it through the UEFA Europa League group stage at the first attempt under Guus Hiddink last season, losing to Newcastle United FC in the round of 16 after beating Hannover 96 at this stage.

• Anji and NK Maribor are the only sides to have made it through this season's group stage with a negative goal difference – -3 in both cases.

• Anji scored just four goals in Group K; of the other teams that qualified, only Real Betis Balompié (with three goals in Group I) registered fewer.

• Genk made it through the UEFA Europa League group stage unbeaten for the second consecutive season (W3 D3 in 2012/13, W4 D2 this term), but will look to avoid history repeating itself, having lost in the round of 32 12 months ago to VfB Stuttgart.

Team facts
• Genk's Thomas Buffel marks his 33rd birthday on the eve of matchday seven.

• Genk twice competed in the UEFA Champions League (in 2002/03 and 2011/12), but have yet to win a game in the spring phase of a UEFA competition.

• Anji come into this encounter as the bottom side in the Russian top division, without a win in 19 Premier League games in 2013/14. Having invested heavily under Hiddink, the club sold most of their prize assets in the summer, including Samuel Eto'o, Willian and a player well-known in Belgium, former KAA Gent and RSC Anderlecht midfielder Mbark Boussoufa.

Coach information
• A major footballing figure in his native Dagestan, Gadzhi Gadzhiev returned for a fourth spell as Anji coach in the summer of 2013. A player for FC Spartak Leningrad, he has coached in Azerbaijan and Japan and worked as assistant to Anatoliy Byshovets during his spells in charge of the USSR/CIS and Russia, embarking on the first of his adventures with Anji in 1999.

• Hired in August 2011, Dutchman Mario Been won his first trophy as Genk coach when he guided the side to the 2012/13 Belgian Cup. An attacking midfielder, 'Mariodona' played for home-town club Feyenoord, Pisa Calcio, Roda JC, sc Heerenveen, FC Tirol Innsbruck and another Rotterdam side, SBV Excelsior. He subsequently coached both Excelsior and Feyenoord either side of leading NEC Nijmegen through the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage.

Round of 16
• The winners of this tie will meet FC Slovan Liberec or AZ Alkmaar in the round of 16, playing the second leg at home.

• Anji have never met Liberec, but famously overcame AZ in last season's UEFA Europa League play-offs, winning 1-0 in Moscow and 5-0 in Alkmaar: Anji's biggest continental away victory and AZ's heaviest European home defeat.

• Genk have yet to encounter either of their potential opponents.