Having recorded the biggest away win in UEFA Europa League history in Skopje last time out, Real Sociedad will be brimming with confidence ahead of the visit of Vardar on matchday four.
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Real Sociedad recorded the UEFA Europa League's biggest away win when they put Vardar to the sword with a 6-0 victory in Skopje on matchday three. The Macedonian club may seek damage limitation as their first priority for the return encounter.
• The Spanish team ran riot in Skopje, the 6-0 win being the biggest in their European history. Four of the goals were scored by Brazilian striker Willian José, who thus became only the fourth player to register that number in a UEFA Europa League fixture, group stage to final.
• Prior to that encounter the only European tie between Macedonian and Spanish sides had come in the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup, with Celta Vigo beating Pelister 3-0 in Spain and 2-1 in the return leg in Bitola.
• Real Sociedad have won their last three European games in San Sebastian without conceding a goal. In the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League they are on a run of 11 successive home wins, in which they have conceded just one goal; the last side to have denied them victory in front of their own fans in this competition were Sporting CP in the second round of the 1988/89 UEFA Cup (0-0).
• Vardar won 2-1 at Fenerbahçe in this season's UEFA Europa League play-offs to reach the group stage; it was the club's only victory in their last 14 European away fixtures (D4 L9).
• Although Real Sociedad played in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2003/04 and 2013/14, the San Sebastian team are making their debut at this juncture of the UEFA Europa League.
• Domestic champions for a third season running in 2016/17, Vardar are the first club from FYR Macedonia to appear in the group stage of a major UEFA competition.
Trivia and links
• The journey from Skopje to San Sebastian is around 1,900km.
• Real Sociedad and Group L leaders Zenit have both scored 11 goals after three matchdays – the most by any team in the competition and half as many as the record number for the group stage, the 22 registered by Napoli in 2015/16.
• Vardar have shipped 14 goals in the first three matchdays – four more than any other side in this season's group stage. The record for the most goals conceded in a UEFA Europa League group is held by Slovan Bratislava (20 in 2014/15).
• Real Sociedad have not incurred a single yellow or red card in the first three matchdays – the only one of the 48 competing clubs to have achieved that feat.
• Suspended for next match if booked: Jambul Jigauri (Vardar).
• Real Sociedad boss since 2015, Eusebio Sacristán can complete a full set of major UEFA trophies this season, having won the European Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup as a midfielder with Barcelona. He was also Barcelona's assistant coach and B team boss.
• Cedomir Janevski returned to coach Vardar in August 2017, having previously served the Skopje team as a defender from 1982–89. He spent many of the intervening years in Belgium, where he played for and coached Club Brugge among others.