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Slavia Praha v Genk background

Slavia Praha are in the round of 32 for the first time and take on a Genk side who have become regulars at this stage.

Slavia made it through to the knockout stage on matchday six
Slavia made it through to the knockout stage on matchday six ©AFP/Getty Images

Slavia Praha's UEFA Europa League round of 32 debut is a first meeting with a Genk side who won their group and are competing at this stage for the fourth time in seven seasons.

• The Czech side made it through the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time after two previous failures, finishing runners-up in Group C to Zenit, whom they defeated 2-0 in Prague on matchday six to seal their qualification with ten points. Genk topped a competitive Group I with 11 points, concluding their autumn campaign with a 4-0 home win against Sarpsborg.

Previous meetings
• Slavia have won just two of their eight matches against Belgian sides, although both came at home. They have lost their last four fixtures (home and away), all to Anderlecht, most recently a pair of 0-3 defeats in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League play-offs.

• Genk's only previous tie against Czech opposition was an away-goals success against Slavia's city rivals Sparta Praha in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (2-0 home, 2-4 away) which took them into that competition's group stage for the first time.

Best goals of the 2018/19 group stage
Best goals of the 2018/19 group stage

Form guide
• As runners-up to Viktoria Plzeň in the 2017/18 Czech Liga, Slavia earned a spot in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, where defeat by Dynamo Kyiv (1-1 home, 0-2 away) sent them into the UEFA Europa League group stage. They won the Czech Cup last term, defeating Jablonec 3-1 in the final.

• Slavia's two previous UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, in 2009/10 and 2017/18, both ended unsuccessfully, a surprising matchday six home defeat against Astana halting their progress last season.

• They did reach the UEFA Cup round of 32 in 2007/08 – the last time they competed in Europe during the spring – when they were eliminated by Tottenham Hotspur (1-2 home, 1-1 away). Their most recent appearance in the last 16 of a European competition was in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup.

• The Prague club did not concede at home in any of their three group games against Bordeaux (1-0), FC København (0-0) and Zenit. They are undefeated in their last four European home fixtures (W2 D2).

Europa League group stage skillzone
Europa League group stage skillzone

• Fifth in the Belgian First Division A last term and also runners-up in the domestic cup, Genk's European prize – after a play-off win – was a UEFA Europa League second qualifying round berth. They sailed through their opening tie against Luxembourg's Fola Esch (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 as group winners to the knockout phase on all four participations, in 2012/13, 2013/14, 2016/17 and this season, when they headed a section featuring Malmö, Beşiktaş and Sarpsborg.

• Their best performance in the competition was in 2016/17, when they reached the quarter-finals, having overcome Romania's Astra in the round of 32 (2-2 away, 1-0 home). Their previous two round of 32 ties had ended in defeat – against Stuttgart in 2012/13 (1-1 away, 0-2 home) and Anji in 2013/14 (0-0 away, 0-2 home). They have therefore drawn all three away legs at this stage of the competition.

• Genk have won six of their last ten European games on the road, losing only twice, at Celta Vigo (2-3) in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals and on matchday two this season at Sarpsborg (1-3).

UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Lukáš Masopust, Petr Ševčík, Mick van Buren, Alex Král
Out: Libor Drozda, Jakub Hromada, David Macháček, Adam Petrák, Lukáš Pokorný, Stanislav Tecl, Matěj Valenta, Michal Vaněk

In: Neto Borges, Casper De Norre, Junya Ito
Out: Bojan Nastić, Ibrahima Seck, Edon Zhegrova

Best goals of the 2018/19 group stage
Best goals of the 2018/19 group stage

Links and trivia 
• Slavia's Nigerian striker Peter Olayinka played in Belgium for Gent and Zulte Waregem, representing the latter in last season's 2-0 loss to Genk in the UEFA Europa League qualification play-off final.

• Genk coach Philippe Clement started both of Belgium's 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-offs against the Czech Republic, helping his country to a pair of 1-0 wins that clinched their berth in Korea/Japan.

• Slavia's January signing Lukás Masopust made three appearances for Jablonec in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage.

• Slavia scored just four goals in the group stage – the fewest by any of the 32 qualified teams, including the eight who finished third in their UEFA Champions League group.

• Slavia are one of only five clubs involved in this round of 32 who have never previously participated in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase; Dinamo Zagreb, FC Zürich, Malmö and Rennes are the others.

• 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 – Adeleke Akinyemi of Ventspils and Molde's Eirik Hestad, who both scored seven. Samatta also struck three times in the group stage and is therefore the leading marksman in the competition overall with nine. He is also the top scorer in the Belgian top flight with 19 goals.

• Slavia and Genk both led their respective domestic leagues at the winter break and have since extended their leads to six and 11 points respectively. The only other round of 32 participants to do likewise were Salzburg (Austria), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Zenit (Russia), Celtic (Scotland) and Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine).

Brightest stars of the #UEL group stage
Brightest stars of the #UEL group stage

The coaches
• Heavily influenced by Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, Jindřich Trpišovský started out as a youth coach at Sparta Praha before impressing with his work at second-division Viktoria Žižkov. He then took over at Slovan Liberec in 2017, leading the club into the UEFA Europa League group stage two seasons running. He left Liberec for Slavia in December 2017 and won the Czech Cup with the Prague outfit the following spring.

• 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 returned in December 2017 to become head coach following a six-month stint at Waasland-Beveren.