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Genk v Sarpsborg facts

Genk lead the way in Group I but have work to do against Sarpsborg, who can still go through themselves.

Genk need to avoid defeat on matchday six
Genk need to avoid defeat on matchday six ©AFP

Genk lead the way in UEFA Europa League Group I, on eight points, but still have work to do in their quest to qualify for the knockout phase. Avoiding defeat at home to European debutants Sarpsborg will secure the Belgian side's passage, but the Norwegian club, without a win in three games, will qualify at their hosts' expense if they bring that run to an end.

• Genk won two of their opening three Group I matches but have drawn the last two, surrendering a two-goal lead last time out at Malmö. Another draw against Sarpsborg will take them through, and a win will guarantee their progress as group winners, but defeat will eliminate them on the head-to-head rule in either a two-way or three-way tie.

• Sarpsborg's unbeaten European home record ended in dramatic fashion on matchday five as they let slip an early two-goal lead against Beşiktaş and lost 3-2, a result that dropped them to the foot of the group. Currently on five points, they will definitely qualify with eight, but their maiden European adventure will come to an end if they do not win in Belgium.

Highlights: Sarpsborg 3-1 Genk

Previous meetings
• Sarpsborg got the better of Genk at home on matchday two, a 3-1 win bringing the Norwegian club their only group stage win to date.

• While Sarpsborg are making their first trip to Belgium in UEFA competition, Genk's only previous home game against a Norwegian club was a thrilling 4-3 win against Stabæk in the 1997 UEFA Intertoto Cup group stage – the hosts having been four goals up inside the first half-hour.

Form guide
• 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.

Watch Genk fight back for Malmö draw

• Genk's four wins and one draw at home this term have stretched their unbeaten run in Europe on Belgian soil to 15 matches (including a 5-2 win at Gent), with 12 of those fixtures ending in victory. They have scored at least once in all of their last 27 European matches, and the last game in which they failed to find the net – 0-2 at Budućnost Podgorica in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League second qualifying round second leg – ended in triumph in any case after they prevailed 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out.

• 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, Sarpsborg 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 six away fixtures in Europe have yielded two wins, one draw and three defeats. They have scored in all of those matches.

See Sarpsborg stunned on matchday five

Links and trivia 
• 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 has also struck three times in the group stage.

• Sarpsborg are one of four clubs who began their successful journey to the group stage in the first qualifying round, the others being Apollon Limassol, FC København and Rangers. They are also one of five who have made their debut this season in the UEFA Europa League proper, along with Akhisar, Dudelange, Jablonec and Spartak Trnava – none of whom, unlike Sarpsborg, are still in contention for a place in the knockout phase.

The coaches
• 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.

• 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.