Sarpsborg's first home game in the competition proper pits them against Genk, who won on Group I's opening day.
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Sarpsborg's debut season in European competition continues with a home fixture against Genk in UEFA Europa League Group I. The Norwegian club lost 3-1 at Beşiktaş on matchday one, whereas Genk overcame Malmö 2-0 in Belgium on the same night.
• Sarpsborg are facing Belgian opposition for the first time, while Genk are making their first trip to Norway. Their only previous encounter with a Norwegian club came at home to Stabæk in the 1997 UEFA Intertoto Cup group stage – a game they won 4-3 after being four goals up inside the first half-hour.
• Formed in 2008, Sarpsborg enjoyed the best season of their short history in 2017, finishing third in the Eliteserien and reaching the final of the Norwegian Cup. The league position secured European involvement for the first time, and they have made the most of the opportunity, progressing all the way from the first qualifying round to the group phase.
• After kicking off their European debut with a 6-0 aggregate win over Iceland's ÍBV, they used the away goals rule to get past Switzerland's St Gallen before overcoming Rijeka of Croatia 2-1 over two legs and then seeing off Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the play-offs (3-1 home, 1-2 away).
• Sarpsborg's four home fixtures in Europe have yielded three wins and a draw, with seven goals scored and two conceded.
• Fourth in the Belgian First Division A last term and also runners-up in the domestic cup, Genk's European prize was a UEFA Europa League second qualifying round berth. They sailed through their opening tie against Luxembourg's Fola Esch, 9-1 on aggregate (5-0 home, 4-1 away), before also winning both legs against Lech Poznań and Brøndby to make it six wins out of six with 22 goals scored.
• Genk have a perfect qualifying record from the UEFA Europa League group stage, having progressed to the knockout phase on each of their previous three participations, in 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2016/17. They reached the quarter-finals of the latter campaign, defeating fellow Belgian club Gent in the round of 16.
• Genk have won all seven European matches this term, including three away. They have won five of their last seven European games on the road, losing only to Celta Vigo (2-3) in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League quarter-final during that run. Their overall away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W4 D3 L2.
Links and trivia
• Sarpsborg are one of four clubs who began their successful journey to the UEFA Europa League group stage in the first qualifying round, the others being Apollon Limassol, FC København and Rangers.
• The Norwegian club are one of five making their debut this season in the UEFA Europa League proper, along with Akhisar, Dudelange, Jablonec and Spartak Trnava.
• Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta's tally of six goals for Genk in this season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase was bettered by only two players – Aedeleke Akinyemi of Ventspils and Eirik Hestad of Molde, who both scored seven. Samatta also found the net in the matchday one win against Malmö.
• A coaching career spent exclusively in his native Norway peaked for Geir Bakke when the Sarpsborg side he has led since January 2015 finished third in the 2017 Eliteserien to qualify for a first crack at European football and subsequently negotiated four qualifying ties to reach the UEFA Europa League group stage. Prior to joining Sarpsborg he was the assistant to Tor Ole Skullerud as Molde claimed their first Norwegian league and cup double in 2014.
• A former Belgian international who represented his country at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 and won 38 caps, Philippe Clement was a defensive midfielder and centre-back who spent most of his career with Club Brugge, completing a decade at the club following a short spell in England with Coventry. He had made his Belgian top-flight debut with Genk, and it was to the Limburg club that he returned in December 2017 to become head coach following a six-month stint at Waasland-Beveren.