Pressure off as Esbjerg welcome Standard

Esbjerg fB have Group C leaders FC Salzburg in their sights as they take on R. Standard de Liège having already confirmed their place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

Goalkeeper Frederik Rønnow claims a high ball for Esbjerg
Goalkeeper Frederik Rønnow claims a high ball for Esbjerg ©AFP/Getty Images

Esbjerg fB have already successfully navigated their way through the UEFA Europa League group stage at the first attempt, and will hope for more to celebrate as R. Standard de Liège visit in Group C.

• Standard's 100th game in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League ended in disappointment on matchday four, a 3-1 loss at home to FC Salzburg ending hopes of reaching the last 32. Esbjerg's 1-0 win at IF Elfsborg the same night ensured they would be playing in the UEFA club competition in the spring for the first time.

Previous meetings
• Substitute Mushaga Bakenga struck five minutes into added time to secure a 2-1 win for Esbjerg when the sides met for the first time on matchday one. In what was the Danish club's first encounter with Belgian opponents, Mick van Buren (63) put Esbjerg in front but Mujangi Bia (74) came off the bench to equalise.

• It was Standard's first defeat in four games against Danish opponents. They had won all three of the previous encounters without conceding a goal; most recently beating FC København 3-0 at home and 1-0 in Copenhagen in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League group stage.

Match background
• Esbjerg beat AS Saint-Étienne home and away in the play-offs to reach their first UEFA club competition group stage.

• Of the eight teams who qualified for the round of 32 on matchday four, three have reached this stage of the UEFA Europa League for the first time: Esbjerg, ACF Fiorentina and PFC Ludogorets Razgrad.

• Standard have scored one goal in each of their four Group C games. They have kept just one clean sheet in ten European games this season, but have scored at least once in all of those fixtures.

• After missing the cut on their debut in 2004/05, Standard made it through both of their subsequent UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, getting as far as the last eight in 2009/10 after transferring from the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Team facts
• Norwegian striker Bakenga played for Club Brugge KV and on loan at Cercle Brugge KSV before being loaned to Esbjerg this summer. His three games against Standard during his time in Belgium brought a win (1-0 with Club Brugge in 2011/12) and two defeats (2-1, 1-0 with Cercle Brugge in 2012/13).

• Esbjerg winger Emil Lyng also has experience of Belgian football having spent part of 2009/10 on loan from LOSC Lille at SV Zulte Waregem. His side drew 1-1 at home against Standard during that spell.

Coach information
• Hired as Esbjerg coach in the summer of 2013 after Jess Thorup moved on to coach Denmark's Under-21 side, Niels Frederiksen took an unusual path into top-flight football. An economics graduate, he worked at a bank while coaching youth teams at B 1903 København and Lyngby BK, eventually being hired as the club's senior coach in 2009. He led them to promotion in the first of his four seasons in charge.

• Guy Luzon left his native Israel to take over as Standard coach in summer 2013, having led his national team on home soil at the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship. Injury forced the nephew of Israel Football Association president Avi Luzon to hang up his boots at 21, but he found his calling as a coach, famously leading Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC into the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage.