Krasnodar can claim a place in the round of 32 when they take on an Akhisar side still searching for a first Group J point.
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Krasnodar go into the penultimate round of UEFA Europa League Group J games with their sights set firmly on a place in the round of 32. Turkish visitors Akhisar Belediyespor have lost all four matches on their European debut and are out of the running, whereas their Russian hosts, with nine points on the board, are in a position to qualify for the knockout phase with a game to spare.
• Krasnodar have won both previous home games in the group, coming from a goal down to defeat both Sevilla and Standard Liège 2-1. In between, however, they lost by the same scoreline in Belgium – to an added-time winner – and are level on points with Sevilla, three ahead of Standard. They will be through if they pick up more points against Akhisar than Standard manage at home to Sevilla.
• Akhisar's first experience of European football has been a tough one, with four defeats out of four, including a 6-0 loss at Sevilla that constituted the Spanish club's biggest European victory. Their other three games have been more competitive, all defeats by one-goal margins, including 2-3 at home to Sevilla last time out.
• Krasnodar defeated Akhisar 1-0 on the Turkish club's European debut thanks to a first-half strike from Swedish international Viktor Claesson.
• The Russian side's only other experience of Turkish opposition was a 2-1 aggregate defeat of Fenerbahçe (1-0 home, 1-1 away) in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League round of 32, the club's first win in a knockout phase encounter. Claesson scored Krasnodar's first-leg winner with his first touch on his club debut.
• Since making their European debut in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League, Krasnodar have qualified for the competition every season since, failing to make the group stage only in 2017/18, when they lost a play-off to Crvena zvezda on away goals. Fourth place in last season's Russian Premier League secured their group stage berth this term.
• Krasnodar were unable to progress from their group at the first attempt, in 2014/15, but succeeded in both of the following two seasons, lasting until the round of 32 in 2015/16 and the round of 16 in 2016/17.
• The Russian club have won five of their last six European home games, all by a one-goal margin, starting with that victory over Fenerbahçe. Their UEFA Europa League group stage record in Krasnodar is W6 D3 L2 and they have scored in all but one of those games.
• Akhisar qualified for their first European campaign – and an automatic place in the UEFA Europa League group stage – with a shock 3-2 win over Fenerbahçe in the 2018 Turkish Cup final. They finished 11th in the league – nine places and 30 points behind their illustrious Istanbul opponents.
• Defeated in their first four European games, Akhisar are one of three clubs yet to record a point in this season's UEFA Europa League; the others are Rosenborg (Group B) and fellow group stage debutants Dudelange (F).
• Akhisar have the joint leakiest defence in the competition, with 12 goals conceded – the same number as Rosenborg.
Links and trivia
• Charles Kaboré of Krasnodar and Akhisar's Yevhen Seleznyov have both played for Krasnodar's city rivals Kuban.
• Krasnodar defender Uroš Spajić and Akhisar goalkeeper Milan Lukač are fellow Serbian internationals.
• The Turkish club are one of five making their debut in the UEFA Europa League proper this season, along with Dudelange, Jablonec, Sarpsborg and Spartak Trnava.
• An FC Krasnodar man through and through, Murad Musaev made his mark by leading the club's Under-19s to the knockout phase of the 2017/18 UEFA Youth League, where they were only eliminated on penalties by Real Madrid in front of a competition-record crowd. That achievement helped him land the position of caretaker coach to the senior side following Igor Shalimov's dismissal in early April 2018. His position as the club's new head coach was subsequently confirmed during the summer.
• Cihat Arslan was appointed as Akhisar's new head coach on 25 September, succeeding Safet Sušić. It is his second spell at the club, the first lasting for the duration of the 2015/16 season when he led Akhisar to an eighth-placed finish in the Turkish Süper Lig. A former defender who was a national champion early in his playing career with Galatasaray, he has coached a host of Turkish clubs, most recently Karşiyaka and Adanaspor.