Ligue 1 takes on the Bundesliga as Saint-Étienne, beaten on matchday one, host a Wolfsburg side who kicked off with a home win.
Article top media content
Ligue 1 takes on the Bundesliga in UEFA Europa League Group I as Saint-Étienne, defeated on matchday one, host a Wolfsburg side that kicked off their first European campaign in four years with a solid home win.
• St-Étienne went down 3-2 at Gent in Belgium on opening night despite a fine strike from Wahbi Khazri, while Wolfsburg comfortably saw off Ukrainian group stage debutants Olexandriya, goals from Maximilian Arnold, Admir Mehmedi and Josip Brekalo earning a 3-1 win.
• Although the clubs are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, this is St-Étienne's 20th match against German opposition, the previous 19 having brought just three wins. They have drawn six of their nine home games (W2 L1), including each of the last three, most recently 0-0 against Mainz in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Wolfsburg's only win in six trips to France (D2 L3) came on their last visit, on matchday six of the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League, when they won 3-0 at LOSC Lille to secure their place in the round of 32. That ended a nine-match winless run against French sides, home and away.
• Absent from Europe since they reached the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League round of 32, St-Étienne made it back by finishing fourth in Ligue 1 last term to secure a fourth group stage appearance in this competition.
• Unable to get out of their group in 2014/15, when they drew their first five matches and lost the last, they were successful in both 2015/16 and 2016/17 before exiting both times at the round of 32 stage, latterly to eventual winners Manchester United (0-3 a, 0-1 h).
• Les Verts are unbeaten at home in the UEFA Europa League group stage, but seven of those nine matches have been drawn. They were on a run of ten matches undefeated in group fixtures (W5 D5) until their matchday one reverse at Gent.
• A sixth-placed finish in last season's Bundesliga ensured Wolfsburg direct entry into the group stage and a first European campaign since they reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2015/16.
• The German club are competing in the UEFA Europa League group stage for a second time, their 2014/15 campaign having proved successful and ending in the quarter-finals at the hands of Napoli. They also reached the last eight in the competition's inaugural 2009/10 season having finished third in their UEFA Champions League section.
• Quarter-finalists therefore in each of their last three European campaigns, Wolfsburg are unbeaten in their last five UEFA Europa League away fixtures (W3 D2). Their overall away record in the competition is W3 D4 L2, both defeats having come in England.
Links and trivia
• Wolfsburg skipper Josuha Guilavogui started his career with St-Étienne, making over 100 appearances for the club from 2010 to 2014.
• Guilavogui played for Les Verts alongside Loïc Perrin, Stéphane Ruffier, Jessy Moulin and Romain Hamouma.
• Wolfsburg's Marcel Tisserand (Monaco, Lens, Toulouse) and Jérôme Roussillon (Sochaux, Montpellier) have both played in Ligue 1.
• Ghislain Printant stepped up from his position as Jean-Louis Gasset's assistant to become Saint-Étienne’s head coach in June 2019 – a month after his 58th birthday. Only once previously had he taken charge of a Ligue 1 club, at Corsican side Bastia from November 2014 to January 2016, leading the team to the final of the French League Cup. A goalkeeper at amateur level, he was also Gasset's No2 for a short spell at Montpellier in 2017 before the pair moved to St-Étienne.
• Austrian coach Oliver Glasner signed a three-year contract in the spring of 2019 to succeed Bruno Labbadia at Wolfsburg. He arrived in Germany with a growing reputation having led LASK Linz to a runners-up spot in the Austrian Bundesliga just two seasons after steering the club to promotion from the second tier. A former centre-back, Glasner spent virtually his entire career with Ried, with whom he won the Austrian Cup twice, in 1998 and 2011. He also spent a season as the club's coach before joining LASK in 2015.