Regular group stage contenders, København and Zenit both came through qualifying to set up a first meeting.
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Regular competitors in the UEFA Europa League, FC København and Zenit both came safely through the qualifying phase – although not without a scare – and open their Group C campaign with an intriguing first contest in the Danish capital.
• Both clubs have positive all-time records against opposition from the other's country, with Zenit undefeated in four games against Danish teams and FCK boasting three wins and two defeats versus Russian opposition despite losing the most recent encounter – 2-1 away to Lokomotiv Moskva on matchday five of last season's UEFA Europa League group stage. That followed a matchday one 0-0 draw in Copenhagen.
• FCK were dethroned as Danish champions last season, missing out on a third successive title and ensuring an 18th successive European campaign only after a post-season play-off win. They are one of only four clubs to have reached the UEFA Europa League group stage after beginning their campaign in the first qualifying round, the other three being Apollon Limassol, Rangers and Sarpsborg. A penalty shoot-out win took them past Atalanta after two goalless draws in the play-offs.
• The Danish club are taking part in a sixth UEFA Europa League group stage and have progressed twice before, most recently last season when they lost in the round of 32 to eventual winners Atlético Madrid (1-4 home, 0-1 away). They had gone a round further in 2016/17 after crossing over from the UEFA Champions League group stage.
• That home defeat by Atlético was the only loss in their last ten European fixtures at Parken (W6 D3). FCK have not conceded in any of their last six home group stage encounters.
• 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.
• This is Zenit's third successive appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage, and fourth in all. They have qualified for the knockout phase on each occasion, reaching the round of 16 last season before going out to RB Leipzig. The St Petersburg club lifted the UEFA Cup in 2008 and are one of six former champions in this season's group stage.
• Zenit have lost their last four European away matches, but their record on the road in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W7 D1 L1.
Links and trivia
• FCK's Ján Greguš and Zenit's Róbert Mak are team-mates with Slovakia.
• Both clubs play in stadiums that will host matches at UEFA EURO 2020.
• Ståle Solbakken's second coaching tenure at København began in 2013. He has won seven Danish titles in charge of FCK, five of those in his first spell from 2006 to 2011. The former Norway midfielder won 58 caps and scored nine goals for his country, appearing at both the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000, and had short spells coaching in Germany (with Köln) and England (with Wolves) in between his two lengthy stints in the Danish capital.
• 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.