FC Slovan Liberec will be keen to secure their place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 with a Group H win at home against SC Freiburg on matchday five.
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FC Slovan Liberec can remove SC Freiburg from the UEFA Europa League Group H equation on matchday five, with a victory sure to put the Czech side through to the round of 32 and eliminate their visitors.
• Freiburg trail Liberec by three points going into matchday five and are in danger of being cast adrift at the bottom of the section along with Estoril Praia, who visit Group H leaders Sevilla FC.
• Freiburg let a 2-0 lead slip on matchday one as the first encounter between the clubs ended 2-2 in Germany.
• Liberec's record in seven games against German opponents is an unedifying W0 D3 L4 (W0 D2 L1 at home – W0 D1 L3 in Germany). They have yet to score in three home games against Bundesliga sides.
• Freiburg's only previous experience of Czech opposition was a 1995/96 UEFA Cup first round game which they lost 2-1 on aggregate to SK Slavia Praha, going down 2-1 at home before a goalless draw in Prague.
• Liberec are unbeaten in six European home matches (W3 D3) since a 2-1 loss to CFR 1907 Cluj in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.
• Liberec failed to make it through to the round of 32 in their only previous group stage appearance in 2006/07.
• Freiburg have not scored in their last three European away fixtures – two this season and one in 2001/02.
• Freiburg are making their maiden appearance in a UEFA competition group stage. Indeed, this is their first appearance in Europe since they reached the third round of the 2001/02 UEFA Cup, losing to eventual winners Feyenoord.
• Well-travelled Liberec midfielder and defender Radoslav Kováč celebrates his 34th birthday on the eve of matchday five. Freiburg's Czech defender Pavel Krmaš and Kovác were briefly team-mates at AC Sparta Praha at the start of 2003/04.
• Freiburg players have received four red cards since the start of the group stage – more than any other side in this season's competition.
• Freiburg's Karim Guédé was sent off for the second time in this season's group stage on matchday four, having been shown two yellow cards in the space of a 12-minute cameo performance on matchday one.
• Vladimír Darida left Czech champions FC Viktoria Plzeň for Freiburg in the summer. The 23-year-old has bad memories of past meetings with Jaroslav Šilhavý's side: a 0-0 draw against Liberec on the last day of the 2011/12 season meant Slovan claimed the title at Plzeň's expense, while their 2012/13 title celebrations were delayed following a 2-1 loss to Liberec in their penultimate game of the campaign.
• Freiburg boast a third Czech talent in the form of midfielder Václav Pilař, who joined from VfL Wolfsburg in the summer.
• Last season, Freiburg forward Admir Mehmedi and Liberec's Ukrainian duo of Vladyslav Kalitvintsev and Serhiy Rybalka were team-mates at FC Dynamo Kyiv.
• Hired in June 2011, Jaroslav Šilhavý led Liberec to the Czech title in his first season at the club; it was his first major title, with the coach having gained experience on the national team staff, and by taking charge of SK Kladno, hometown club Viktoria Plzeň and Dynamo České Budějovice. As a defender, he played a Czech record 465 league games for Plzeň, RH Cheb, SK Slavia Praha, FC Petra Drnovice and FK Viktoria Žižkov.
• A qualified teacher, coach Christian Streich played for Freiburg and their neighbours Freiburger FC as a midfielder, making a brief cameo appearance in the Bundesliga with FC 08 Homburg before moving into coaching. He took charge of Freiburg's youth team in 1995, later combining that role with work as the club's assistant coach before being given sole command in December 2011. He famously cycles to all of Freiburg's home games.