The Arena Lviv is the venue for Olexandriya's first home fixture in a UEFA group stage as the Ukrainian side host Belgian visitors Gent.
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The Arena Lviv is the venue for Olexandriya's first home fixture in a UEFA group stage as the Ukrainian side, who lost their opening match, host Belgian visitors Gent, who have unhappy memories of their previous visit to the stadium but arrive with three points already in the bank.
• Two goals from Canadian midfielder Jonathan David helped Gent to a narrow 3-2 victory over St-Étienne on matchday one, when Olexandriya's first European encounter outside the qualifying phase ended in a 3-1 defeat by Wolfsburg, Yevhen Banada scoring the visitors' first group stage goal.
• Olexandriya are facing Belgian opposition for the first time in UEFA competition.
• Gent have an unenviable record against Ukrainian clubs, having suffered heavy defeats in all four previous fixtures. They were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round by Dynamo Kyiv in 2010/11 (0-3 a, 1-3 h) and lost both UEFA Europa League group games to Shakhtar Donetsk in 2016/17 (0-5 a, 3-5 h). Their two visits to Ukraine, the second of which took place in the Arena Lviv, have therefore yielded no goals for and eight against.
• 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's home record in Europe is W1 L2, with two goals scored and five conceded.
• Fifth in the 2018/19 Belgian top flight, and also runners-up in the domestic cup, Gent qualified for Europe for the fifth successive season, extending the longest sequence in the club's history.
• Ousted in the qualifying phase of the UEFA Europa League in each of the past two seasons, they came through three ties to reach the group stage this term, defeating Romania's Viitorul (6-3 h, 1-2 a), AEK Larnaca of Cyprus (1-1 a, 3-0 h) and, in the play-offs, Croatian club Rijeka (2-1 h, 1-1 a). Their two previous participations at this juncture of the competition had different outcomes, with elimination in 2010/11 and progress through to the round of 16 in 2016/17.
• Gent have won only once away in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final (D3 L4) – a vital last-gasp 1-0 victory at Konyaspor on matchday six in 2016/17 that took them through to the next round. That was their most recent group game in the competition outside Belgium.
Links and trivia
• Gent's Ukrainian international striker Roman Yaremchuk spent the first half of 2016/17 on loan at Olexandriya from Dynamo Kyiv. He played in Olexandriya's maiden European tie against Hajduk Split and scored five goals for the club in the Ukrainian Premier League.
• There are two other Ukrainians in Gent's squad – defender Igor Plastun and midfielder Roman Bezus.
• Olexandriya's Valeriy Luchkevych was a Standard Liège player from 2017–19. He and Bezus played together for Dnipro, helping the Ukrainian club reach the UEFA Europa League final in 2014/15.
• Plastun is a former team-mate of Olexandriya's Anton Shendrik, Kyrylo Kovalets (both Obolon Kyiv, 2011/12) and Pavlo Pashayev (Karpaty Lviv, 2013/14).
• Olexandriya are one of six UEFA Europa League group stage debutants this season; the others are Espanyol, Ferencváros, Wolverhampton Wanderers and two Austrian clubs, LASK and Wolfsberg.
• 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.
• A tall striker who spent most of his playing career in his native Denmark with OB and Esbjerg but also had short spells in Germany, Austria and Norway, Jess Thorup has lately become one of his country's most upwardly mobile coaches. After a two-year stint in charge of the Danish Under-21 side he became Midtjylland's head coach in 2015 and steered the Jutland club to the Superliga title in 2017/18. That prompted interest from abroad and he was recruited in October 2018 by Gent, whom he guided to a runners-up spot in the Belgian Cup and a fifth-placed finish in the league in his first season.