Wolfsburg return to European football after a four-year absence as Olexandriya make their debut in a UEFA group stage.
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Wolfsburg and Olexandriya both get their 2019/20 European campaigns under way on the opening matchday of UEFA Europa League Group I. The German club are back in continental competition after a four-year absence while their Ukrainian visitors are making their debut in a UEFA group stage.
• Wolfsburg have never previously faced Ukrainian opponents in UEFA competition, nor have Olexandriya come against a club from Germany.
• A sixth-placed finish in last season's Bundesliga ensured Wolfsburg direct entry into the group stage and a first European campaign since they reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2015/16.
• The German club are competing in the UEFA Europa League group stage for a second time, their 2014/15 campaign having proved successful and ending in the quarter-finals at the hands of Napoli. They also reached the last eight in the competition's inaugural 2009/10 season having finished third in their UEFA Champions League section.
• Quarter-finalists therefore in each of their last three European campaigns, Wolfsburg won all five home fixtures in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League but have lost three of nine in the UEFA Europa League, including the most recent, 1-4 against Napoli, their heaviest home European defeat.
• Olexandriya finished third in the 2018/19 Ukrainian Premier League – the club's highest ever final placing – to gain direct access to the UEFA Europa League group stage and sample European football in the autumn for the first time.
• This is only the club's third European campaign, their 2016/17 debut having ended in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round (against Hajduk Split), the second, in 2017/18, concluding in the play-offs (against BATE Borisov). Their only European victory came against Astra Giurgiu in the 2017/18 third qualifying round (0-0 a, 1-0 h).
• Olexandriya have yet to win away in Europe (D2 L1), scoring two goals and conceding four.
Links and trivia
• Wolfsburg's Swiss international forward Admir Mehmedi played in Ukraine for Dynamo Kyiv from 2012–13.
• Olexandriya are the ninth different Ukrainian club to compete in the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Austrian coach Oliver Glasner signed a three-year contract in the spring of 2019 to succeed Bruno Labbadia at Wolfsburg. He arrived in Germany with a growing reputation having led LASK Linz to a runners-up spot in the Austrian Bundesliga just two seasons after steering the club to promotion from the second tier. A former centre-back, Glasner spent virtually his entire career with Ried, with whom he won the Austrian Cup twice, in 1998 and 2011. He also spent a season as the club's coach before joining LASK in 2015.
• A one-cap Ukrainian international midfielder who won two domestic league titles with Dynamo Kyiv in the early 1990s, Volodymyr Sharan has been the Olexandriya coach for the best part of a decade, a first spell, lasting two years, preceding a brief stint at Karpaty Lviv before he returned in 2013 and steered the club into the Ukrainian top flight two years later. He has since qualified Olexandriya for the UEFA Europa League on three occasions, their third-place finish in 2018/19 securing a first experience of group stage football.