Athletic v Zorya background

Athletic Club come into their Group J meeting with Zorya on a run of six straight home European victories – a daunting prospect for the visitors.

Athletic's Mikel Balenziaga in action against Hertha
Athletic's Mikel Balenziaga in action against Hertha ©AFP/Getty Images

Athletic Club come into their UEFA Europa League Group J meeting with Zorya on a run of six straight home wins against European opponents – a daunting prospect for the visitors.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time and it is Zorya's first encounter with Liga opponents.

• Athletic's only past encounters against Ukrainian opponents were a pair of meetings with Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League group stage: a 0-0 home draw and a 1-0 win in Lviv.

Highlights: Hertha v Athletic
Highlights: Hertha v Athletic

Form guide
• Athletic have won their last six European home games since a 2-1 loss to eventual winners Sevilla in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

• Zorya have lost their last four UEFA away games – and failed to score in the most recent three.

• Seventh in Spain last term, Athletic have successfully negotiated the last two UEFA Europa League group stages, and were losing finalists in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup and 2011/12 UEFA Europa League.

• Third in the 2016/17 Ukrainian table, Zorya are featuring in their second successive group stage, though they were unable to make the UEFA Europa League round of 32 last term.

Highlights: Zorya v Östersund
Highlights: Zorya v Östersund

Links and trivia
• The journey from Luhansk to Bilbao is around 3,300km, though Zorya play their home games in Lviv, which is 2,200km from Bilbao.

• Athletic's Raúl García was a 2009/10 UEFA Europa League winner with Atlético Madrid.

• Athletic's Aritz Aduriz was top scorer in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League with ten goals.

• This is Athletic's 164th UEFA game – and Zorya's 22nd.

The coaches
• Better known as 'Cuco', José Ángel Ziganda was a forward for Osasuna and Athletic Club, and later took Osasuna to the 2006/07 UEFA Cup semi-finals as a coach. He was handed the Athletic reins in May 2017 after a six-year spell as B team boss.

• Yuriy Vernydub has been in charge at Zorya since stepping up from his role as assistant coach in November 2011, leading them to fourth and third-placed finishes in the last two seasons. He was a Russian Cup winner as a Zenit defender in 1999.

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