Fenerbahçe have changed coach as they welcome Zenit, who picked up only two points on their travels in the group stage, to Istanbul.
Article top media content
Fenerbahçe and Zenit kick off the round of 32 with an intriguing first leg in Istanbul, the Turkish club resuming their European campaign under a new coach with a first ever fixture against Zenit, the winter leaders of the Russian Premier League.
• Fenerbahçe's autumn struggles in the Turkish Süper Lig were counterbalanced by the extension of their UEFA Europa League journey into the spring, although they finished with eight points, the lowest total of any of the 24 qualified teams and six points behind section winners Dinamo Zagreb. Like the Turkish club, Zenit sealed their round of 32 berth with a match to spare, nine of the 11 points that enabled them to top Group C being registered at home.
• Fenerbahçe are unbeaten in Istanbul against Russian visitors (W2 D2). This is the third UEFA Europa League round of 32 in a row that they have been drawn against Russian opposition; they defeated Lokomotov Moskva 3-1 on aggregate in 2015/16 (2-0 home, 1-1 away) but went out to Krasnodar 12 months later (0-1 away, 1-1 home).
• Zenit have played just one UEFA fixture against a Turkish club, a 1-1 draw in Istanbul against Beşiktaş in their final fixture of the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage that clinched their place in the knockout phase.
• Fenerbahçe finished runners-up in the Turkish league and cup last season, Galatasaray edging them out in the Süper Lig and unheralded Akhisar shocking them with a 3-2 cup final win. They opened their 2018/19 European campaign with a UEFA Champions League third qualifying round defeat by Benfica (0-1 away, 1-1 home), which sent them directly into the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• The Istanbul club's fifth group appearance ended like the previous four, with progress into the knockout phase, although they had to recover from an opening 4-1 defeat away to Dinamo Zagreb. A pair of 2-0 wins at home to Spartak Trnava and Anderlecht ultimately proved decisive during a Group D campaign in which Dutch coach Phillip Cocu was sacked after four months in charge.
• Fenerbahçe's most successful UEFA Europa League adventure was in 2012/13, when they reached the semi-finals. They defeated BATE Borisov (0-0 away, 1-0 home) in that round of 32; in 2009/10 they were knocked out at this stage by LOSC Lille (1-2 away, 1-1 home). Their round of 32 record in Istanbul is therefore W2 D2.
• Fenerbahçe claimed seven points at home in this season's group stage, keeping clean sheets in all three matches. They are unbeaten at home in the UEFA Europa League proper in their last 11 fixtures, winning eight. The Yellow Canaries had scored in 17 successive European home games until they drew 0-0 with Dinamo Zagreb on matchday six.
• Fifth in the 2017/18 Russian Premier League, Zenit's 12th successive European campaign began in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, where they staged an astonishing second-leg comeback against Dinamo Minsk in St Petersburg, winning 8-1 after extra time in response to a shock 4-0 first-leg defeat in Belarus. Their play-off victory over Molde was also a tight call, a 3-1 home win preceding a 2-1 loss in Norway.
• Zenit's third successive appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage, and fourth in all, maintained their perfect record of qualifying for the knockout phase as section winners – a feat achieved for the first time in 2010/11. They defeated Slavia Praha, Bordeaux and København in St Petersburg, all by one-goal margins, and drew 1-1 in both Denmark and France, ceding their unbeaten record only on matchday six when, already through, they lost 2-0 at second-placed Slavia.
• This is the Russian side's sixth appearance in the round of 32. They have won four of their five ties, the only blot coming against Anderlecht two years ago (0-2 away, 3-1 home). Their victories have been against Young Boys in 2010/11 (1-2 away, 3-1 home), Liverpool in 2012/13 (2-0 home, 1-3 away), PSV Eindhoven in 2014/15 (1-0 away, 3-0 home) and Celtic in 2017/18 (0-1 away, 3-0 home). While they have won all five fixtures in St Petersburg, they have lost four away legs.
• Zenit's 1-1 draw at København on matchday one ended a run of four successive European away defeats, but they are still without a win on the road in seven (D2 L5) going back to a 3-1 victory at Real Sociedad on matchday six of last season's UEFA Europa League. In the competition's knockout phase they have played ten away fixtures and lost nine, the only exception that round of 32 win in Eindhoven four years ago. They have never scored more than one goal in the away leg of any springtime tie in this competition.
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Sadık Çiftpınar, Victor Moses, Tolgay Arslan
Out: Barış Alıcı, Aatif Chahechouhe, Diego Reyes, Yiğithan Güveli
In: Yaroslav Rakits'kyy, Sardar Azmoun, Wilmar Barrios
Out: Leandro Paredes, Maksim Bachinski, Yuri Lodygin, Dmitri Kirillov, Nikita Kakkoev, Mikhail Kizeev, Miha Mevlja, Dmitri Pletnev, Ivan Tarasov
Links and trivia
• Luís Neto played for Fenerbahçe on loan from Zenit last season, making 13 league appearances.
• Martin Škrtel represented Zenit between 2004 and 2007, scoring three goals in 74 league appearances. He won the league in 2007.
• Škrtel and Zenit's Robert Mak both play for Slovakia.
• Fenerbahçe's French midfielder Mathieu Valbuena has also played in Russia, making 29 league appearances and scoring six goals for Dinamo Moskva between 2014 and 2015, where his team-mates included current Zenit trio Yuri Zhirkov, Aleksandr Kokorin and Christian Noboa.
• Fenerbahçe's Roman Neustädter is a Russia team-mate of several Zenit players. He scored against Turkey in a 2-0 home win in the UEFA Nations League last autumn, as did Zenit's Artem Dzyuba in Russia's earlier 2-1 away victory in Trabzon.
• Islam Slimani scored the goal that helped Algeria clinch a 1-1 draw against Russia and progress to the 2014 FIFA World Cup round of 16 at their opponents' expense. Oleg Shatov and Kokorin featured for Russia.
• Mauricio Isla (Fenerbahçe) and Claudio Marchisio (Zenit) played together at Juventus from 2012–14.
• Two of Fenerbahçe's January signings played in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage for other clubs, Victor Moses and Tolgay Arslan each making two appearances for Chelsea and Beşiktaş respectively. Zenit's new arrival, Yaroslav Rakits'kyy, also appeared four times for Shakhtar Donetsk during the autumn in the UEFA Champions League.
• Zenit's six goals in the group stage was the lowest number recorded by any of the 12 section winners. The only team to qualify with fewer goals were their Group C rivals Slavia Praha, who scored four.
• One of Turkey's most experienced and charismatic coaches, Ersun Yanal was reappointed by Fenerbahçe on 14 December 2018 – three days before his 57th birthday – to replace interim coach Erwin Koeman. His first spell, in 2013/14, proved highly successful as he led them to the Süper Lig title before departing unexpectedly the following summer and resurfacing at Trabzonspor. His lengthy career history as a coach includes a stint in charge of the Turkish national team from April 2004 to June 2005.
• Sergei Semak took over as Zenit's head coach in May 2018 after an impressive 18-month tenure at FC Ufa that led to the club's first ever European qualification. The former Russia international midfielder had previously worked as an assistant coach at Zenit after ending his playing career there. His peak years on the field came at CSKA Moskva, where he skippered the club to Russian league and cup triumphs, though he left for Paris Saint-Germain midway through the 2004/05 season in which the Moscow club won the UEFA Cup.