Olexandriya and Saint-Étienne meet again two weeks after a 1-1 draw in France that leaves both sides still seeking a first victory in Group I.
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Olexandriya and Saint-Étienne meet again two weeks after a 1-1 draw in France that leaves both sides still seeking a first victory in Group I. The clubs have two points apiece, three fewer than joint leaders Wolfsburg and Gent.
• Group stage first-timers Olexandriya lost 3-1 at Wolfsburg on their debut before claiming their first point in a 1-1 draw at home to Gent; they repeated that scoreline at the Stade Geoffroy Guichard, where the French side's Brazilian defender Gabriel Silva scored at both ends. Claude Puel replaced Ghislain Printant as coach of Les Verts before Matchday 3, his predecessor having overseen a 2-3 loss at Gent and 1-1 draw at home to Wolfsburg.
• While the Matchday 3 contest was a first competitive outing against French opposition for Olexandriya, St-Étienne have had six previous games against Ukrainian clubs, losing on their first two visits to the country but winning the most recent encounter, 1-0 at Dnipro on Matchday 3 of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League with a goal from Romain Hamouma.
• 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 D1 L2, with three goals scored and six conceded. They have scored one goal in each of their last six European encounters, home and away.
• Absent from Europe since they reached the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League round of 32, St-Étienne returned by finishing fourth in Ligue 1 last term to secure a fourth group stage appearance in this competition.
• Unable to get out of their group in 2014/15, when they drew their first five matches and lost the last, they were successful in both 2015/16 and 2016/17 before exiting both times at the round of 32 stage, latterly to eventual winners Manchester United (0-3 a, 0-1 h).
• Les Verts' away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is an evenly balanced W3 D4 L3, the Matchday 1 reverse at Gent ending a five-match unbeaten run (W3 D2). They have drawn 13 of their 21 group stage fixtures, home and away, in this competition.
Links and trivia
• St-Étienne's Yohan Cabaye scored his first senior goal for France against Ukraine in a 2-0 defeat of the UEFA EURO 2012 co-hosts in Donetsk; Mathieu Debuchy and substitute Yann M'Vila also featured in that group stage game in June 2012.
• Born in France, Olexandriya's João Tiago is a youth product of Metz but has never played top-flight football in his homeland.
• 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.
• The experienced Puel replaced Printant as St-Étienne boss on 4 October, returning to Ligue 1 after spells in the English Premier League at Southampton and Leicester City following his departure from Nice in 2017. A former midfielder who accumulated over 600 appearances in all competitions during his 17 seasons at Monaco, he led the Principality side to the French league title in 1999/2000 and as coach of LOSC Lille and Lyon guided the teams into the UEFA Champions League, reaching the semi-finals with the latter in 2009/10.