Two clubs whose campaigns started in the second qualifying round meet in Group L, with Partizan hosting AZ Alkmaar in Belgrade.
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Two clubs whose 2019/20 UEFA Europa League campaigns started in the second qualifying round are both through to a sixth participation in the group stage, with Partizan hosting AZ Alkmaar on matchday one of Group L in Belgrade.
• The clubs have already been paired once before in a UEFA Europa League group stage, Partizan winning both encounters in 2015/16 – 3-2 at home on matchday one and 2-1 away on matchday five – but nevertheless accompanying bottom-placed AZ out of the competition in December as Athletic Club and Augsburg progressed instead.
• Partizan have a perfect home record against Dutch visitors, having also beaten Groningen twice in Belgrade, whereas AZ's 2015 defeat by Partizan is their only one in Serbia. The other two trips produced a draw and a win, the latter 3-0 at Vojvodina in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League play-off first leg with Stijn Wuytens contributing two of the goals.
• Third in the Serbian Superliga last term, Partizan won the domestic cup for the fourth year running, defeating champions Crvena zvezda 1-0 in the final. In Europe they came through three UEFA Europa League qualifiers before losing out to Beşiktaş in the play-offs (1-1 h, 0-3 a).
• This term Partizan entered the competition a round later, defeating Connah's Quay and Malatyaspor before edging past Norwegian side Molde in the play-offs (2-1 h, 1-1 a) to book a sixth group stage berth. After failing to gain further progress on their first four attempts, the Serbian side succeeded on their most recent participation, in 2017/18, before falling in the round of 32 to Viktoria Plzeň (1-1 h, 0-2 a).
• Victorious at home in all three of this season's qualifying games, Partizan are unbeaten in Belgrade by European opposition in ten matches (W8 D2). However, they have won just four of their 15 home UEFA Europa League group stage fixtures, losing seven.
• Fourth in last season's Eredivisie at the end of a season that started with defeat by Kairat Almaty in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, AZ are one of three Dutch clubs in this season's group stage, alongside PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord.
• The Alkmaar club's six group stage participations have all required pre-qualification and this season they negotiated more summer preliminary ties than ever before, three in total, knocking out BK Häcken, Mariupol and, after extra time in the play-offs, Antwerp (1-1 h, 4-1 a). They have drawn eight of their 15 away games in the UEFA Europa League group stage, winning just two, and their last fixture on the road in the competition proper was a 7-1 loss at Lyon in the 2016/17 round of 32. Both of the other two campaigns in which they progressed from their group (2011/12 and 2013/14) ended in the quarter-finals.
• The 1980/81 UEFA Cup runners-up are unbeaten in Europe this season (W3 D3), but outside the qualifying phase they have posted just one win on their travels in their last nine continental fixtures (D3 L5), 1-0 at Dundalk three seasons ago.
Links and trivia
• Partizan goalkeeper Filip Kljajić played in the 2-1 victory against AZ in Alkmaar in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League. His club-mate Rajko Brežančić was in the AZ side for both that game and Partizan's earlier 3-2 win in Belgrade.
• Lazar Marković, Partizan's Serbian international midfielder, was a substitute in both of Benfica's matches against AZ in the quarter-finals of the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League, helping the Portuguese club to a 1-0 win in Belgrade and a 2-0 success in Lisbon.
• Partizan's Nigerian forward Umar Sadiq, on loan to the club from Roma, spent the second half of 2017/18 in the Dutch Eredivisie with NAC Breda. He scored NAC's consolation goal in a 1-3 home defeat by AZ.
• Short of managerial experience but a key figure at the club with whom he started his career in the early 1990s, Savo Milošević was appointed as Partizan's head coach in March 2019 and within less than two months had steered the Belgrade club to victory in the Serbian Cup. A powerful left-footed striker, he scored 37 goals in 102 international appearances, five of them for Yugoslavia at UEFA EURO 2000, where he was the tournament's joint top marksman. He left Partizan for Aston Villa in 1995 and later played in Spain (Zaragoza, Espanyol, Celta Vigo, Osasuna) and Italy (Parma) before ending his career with a Russian league title at Rubin.
• When John van den Brom ended his five-year stint as AZ's head coach by moving to Utrecht in summer 2019, his job was passed on to assistant Arne Slot, whose first task was to steer the Alkmaar club through three qualifying rounds into the UEFA Europa League group stage. This is his first post as a head coach although he is a well-known former player in the Netherlands having operated in the Eredivisie for NAC Breda, Sparta Rotterdam and PEC Zwolle, where he started both his playing and coaching careers, the latter in charge of the youth side in 2013/14.