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Club Brugge v Salzburg background

Belgian champions Club Brugge face Austrian counterparts Salzburg, who once again won every game in the group stage.

Club Brugge celebrate reaching the round of 32
Club Brugge celebrate reaching the round of 32 ©Getty Images

The round of 32 brings together Club Brugge and Salzburg for the first time in European competition, and they meet as respective reigning champions of Belgium and Austria.

• Club Brugge finished third in UEFA Champions League Group A behind Borussia Dortmund and Atlético Madrid in the autumn, while Salzburg won six out of six to top UEFA Europa League Group B ahead of Celtic, RB Leipzig and Rosenborg.

Previous meetings
• This is Club Brugge's tenth encounter with Austrian opposition. They have won only three of their previous nine matches, but those include the two most recent – UEFA Champions League group games against Rapid Wien in 2005/06 (1-0 away, 3-2 home). Those were the Belgian team's last wins in that competition proper until this season's 4-0 success at Monaco on matchday four.

• Salzburg have won five of their ten matches against Belgian clubs, also including the two most recent – home (2-1) and away (3-1) wins against Standard Liège in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage. Their last six encounters with Belgian opposition have all been against Standard, including two in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League round of 32 which Salzburg lost 2-3 on aggregate.

Best goals of the 2018/19 group stage

Form guide
Club Brugge
• Belgian champions for the 15th time – and second in three seasons - in 2017/18, Club Brugge qualified automatically for a sixth participation in the UEFA Champions League. Defeated in their opening two matches – 0-1 at home to Dortmund, 1-3 at Atlético – they thus stretched their losing run in the competition proper to eight games in a row. However, they went unbeaten in their last four fixtures, drawing three in addition to that victory at Monaco.

• This is Club Brugge's fourth appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase. They lost their round of 32 ties in 2009/10 – to Valencia (1-0 home, 0-3 away) – and 2011/12 – to Hannover (1-2 away, 0-1 home) – but made it third time lucky in 2014/15, overcoming Denmark's AaB 6-1 on aggregate (3-1 away, 3-0 home) en route to the quarter-finals.

• Club Brugge have not won any of their last nine home European games (D4 L5), since a 1-0 UEFA Europa League group stage victory against Legia Warszawa in November 2015.

• The Belgian club are on a run of three successive European clean sheets – their longest sequence since 2014. They have not kept four in a row since 1991.

The best saves of the group stage

• Champions of Austria for the fifth year running in 2017/18, Salzburg entered this season's UEFA Champions League in the third qualifying round, but their annual summer quest to reach the group stage ended in another near-miss as they surrendered a two-goal lead to lose on away goals to Crvena zvezda in the play-offs (0-0 away, 2-2 home).

• The Austrian side claimed maximum points in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage, becoming the first club to achieve the feat three times (after 2009/10 and 2013/14). It was also the fifth time that they had come through a UEFA Europa League group unbeaten and the fifth time they had topped their section – both competition records.

• Last season Salzburg enjoyed the most successful of their five previous campaigns in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, eliminating Real Sociedad in the round of 32 (2-2 away, 2-1 home), then Dortmund and Lazio before losing after extra time in the semi-final to Marseille. They had won just one of their previous four round of 32 ties, against Ajax in 2013/14 (3-0 away, 3-1 home), losing against Standard in 2009/10 (2-3 away, 0-0 home), Metalist Kharkiv in 2011/12 (0-4 home, 1-4 away) and Villarreal in 2014/15 (1-2 away, 1-3 home).

• Until they went down 4-2 away to Lazio in the first leg of that 2017/18 quarter-final, Salzburg had gone 19 European games without defeat, ten on their travels (W5 D5). They are undefeated in their five continental away fixtures this term (W4 D1) and found the net ten times in their three group games outside Austria.

UEFA Europa League squad changes
Club Brugge
In: none
Out: none

In: Dominik Szoboszlai, Erling Braut Håland, Albert Vallci
Out: Amadou Haidara, Jasper Van Der Werff, Reinhold Yabo

Brightest stars of the #UEL group stage

Links and trivia 
• Club Brugge's American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who has yet to concede in his three European outings this term, is a former team-mate of Salzburg striker Fredrik Gulbrandsen, who scored in each of Salzburg's last three group games. The pair played together for Norwegian club Molde between 2013 and 2016.

• Club Brugge defender Stefano Denswil was an Ajax player when Salzburg defeated the Dutch club in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 32, starting the second leg in Austria. André Ramalho and Andreas Ulmer were in the Salzburg side for both matches.

• Karlo Letica (Club Brugge) and Marin Pongračić (Salzburg) played together for Croatia's Under-21s in 2017.

• Salzburg's 2-1 win at Celtic on matchday six was the Austrian club's record 37th in the competition, two more than Villarreal.

• Salzburg are one of seven teams who came through the UEFA Europa League group stage undefeated, along with Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal, Betis, Villarreal, Eintracht Frankfurt and Chelsea.

• Salzburg's Israeli international striker Munas Dabbur is the 2018/19 UEFA Europa League's top scorer, having struck six times in the group stage. He leads Eintracht Frankfurt's Luka Jović by one.

• Club Brugge and Salzburg are two of eight current domestic champions competing in the round of 32.

Europa League group stage skillzone

The coaches
• A free-scoring midfielder who made his name with Hajduk Split and won 13 international caps for Croatia, Ivan Leko spent three and a half years as a player with Club Brugge, during which he won the 2006/07 Belgian Cup. Having hung up his boots in February 2014, he began his coaching career in Belgium with OH Leuven. He also had a spell at Sint-Truiden before replacing Michel Preud'homme at Club Brugge in 2017 and promptly leading the Blue-Blacks to a gun-to-tape title success, which was rewarded with Belgium's coach of the year award.

• Previously Salzburg's youth team boss, Marco Rose stepped up to the senior helm after Óscar García left in June 2017, having led the club to victory in the 2016/17 UEFA Youth League. A defender with home-town club VfB Leipzig, Hannover and Mainz, he has been on Salzburg's coaching staff since 2013 and oversaw the club's fifth successive Austrian Bundesliga title as well as a run to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals during his debut campaign in the top job. The club have continued to prosper under his guidance in 2018/19.