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Jablonec v Astana background

Astana lead the way in Group K, although Jablonec can join them on four points with a first group stage victory.

Jablonec (in green) came from two goals down in their last fixture
Jablonec (in green) came from two goals down in their last fixture ©AFP/Getty Images

Astana top the UEFA Europa League Group K standings after two matches but Jablonec will be hoping to join them on four points with a first ever group stage victory as they host the champions of Kazakhstan on matchday three.

• Jablonec came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Dynamo Kyiv last time out following an opening 2-1 defeat at Rennes, while Astana also came from behind to draw 2-2 with Dynamo, in Kyiv on matchday one, before beating the French side 2-0 at home.

Previous meetings
• The teams have never met in UEFA competition, nor have Jablonec ever faced a team from Kazakhstan.

• Astana's only previous visit to the Czech Republic came on matchday six of last season's UEFA Europa League, when they won 1-0 at Slavia Praha – following a 1-1 draw against the same opponents at home – to qualify for the round of 32 at their hosts' expense.

Highlights: Jablonec 2-2 Dynamo Kyiv

Form guide
• Third in last season's Czech Liga, Jablonec are competing in a UEFA group stage for the first time.

• They have been unsuccessful in four previous attempts to qualify for the UEFA Europa League proper, falling in the third qualifying round in both 2010/11 and 2011/12 then losing play-offs against Real Betis in 2013/14 and Ajax in 2015/16.

• The Czech club have recorded just one win in their last eight European fixtures (D2 L5) – 3-2 away to FC København in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round. They have gone four games without a European home win (D2 L2).

• Astana are well on course for a fifth successive domestic league title and came through four qualifying ties this summer – the first three in the UEFA Champions League – to complete a hat-trick of UEFA Europa League group stage participations. After defeating Sutjeska and Midtjylland but then losing to Dinamo Zagreb, they won their UEFA Europa League play-off on penalties – their first European shoot-out – against Cypriot champions APOEL after two 1-0 home wins.

• Having become the first team from Kazakhstan to play in the UEFA Champions League proper in 2015/16, Astana have spent the last two autumns in the UEFA Europa League. Their tally of five points in 2016/17 was not enough to see them through but last season they doubled that total to reach the round of 32, where they lost 6-4 over two legs to Sporting CP.

• Until last season Astana had gone 18 European matches on the road without a win, but in 2017/18 they picked up three. Their last four away fixtures this term, however, have yielded two defeats and two draws – though they did end a run of three games on the road without a goal when they held Dynamo Kyiv to a 2-2 draw on matchday one.

Highlights: Astana 2-0 Rennes

Links and trivia 
• Jablonec's Ukrainian left-back Eduard Sobol played for Slavia Praha against Astana in both of last season's UEFA Europa League group games.

• Astana defender Yuri Logvinenko scored all three Kazakhstan goals against the Czech Republic in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying – two in Astana (2-4) and one in Plzen (1-2).

• Jablonec are one of five clubs making their debut this season in the UEFA Europa League proper. The other four are Akhisar, Dudelange, Sarpsborg and Spartak Trnava.

The coaches
• Petr Rada has taken on numerous coaching jobs in his native Czech Republic since hanging up his boots in 1996, including a nine-month spell as national team boss from July 2008. The former Dukla Praha defender's longest stint in charge of any team was at Jablonec between 2003 and 2007 and he returned over a decade later, in December 2017, steering the club to third place in the Czech Liga and into the group stage of a European club competition for the first time

• A free-scoring Ukrainian striker, Roman Hryhorchuk has made his name as a coach in eastern Europe, starting out in Latvia, where he won three league titles and two domestic cups during a four-year spell with Ventspils. He went on to coach Chornomorets Odesa in his homeland and Azerbaijan side Gabala for similar periods, overseeing UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns for both, before replacing Stanimir Stoilov at Kazakh champions Astana in June 2018; in October the club announced he had gone on leave for personal reasons, assistant Grigoriy Babayan taking over as caretaker.