Anderlecht are off the pace in Group D as they travel to a Fenerbahçe side who recently parted company with coach Phillip Cocu.
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Anderlecht surprisingly prop up UEFA Europa League Group D with just a single point and are under severe pressure to claim a first win in the section against hosts Fenerbahçe, who since the 2-2 draw in Brussels on 25 October have dismissed their head coach Phillip Cocu.
• The record champions of Belgium surrendered a 2-0 lead at home to Fenerbahçe last time out – after a Zakaria Bakkali double had appeared to put them in charge – but the draw at least earned them a first point following defeats at Spartak Trnava (0-1) and at home to Dinamo Zagreb (0-2). The Istanbul side are three points better off, having recovered from an opening 4-1 defeat in Zagreb to defeat Trnava 2-0 in Istanbul.
• Anderlecht will be out if they lose.
• The clubs have been paired together twice before in UEFA competition, Anderlecht winning a European Cup preliminary round tie in 1965 (5-1 at home and on aggregate) and Fenerbahçe winning both legs (1-0 home, 2-0 away) in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round – the first step on the Turkish club's run to the quarter-finals.
• Those are Fenerbahçe's only previous meetings with Belgian opposition, whereas Anderlecht have faced Turkish teams on eight other occasions in the past. Their overall record in Turkey, including the matches at Fenerbahçe, is W2 D2 L2.
• Fenerbahçe finished runners-up in the Turkish league and cup last season, with Galatasaray edging them out in the Süper Lig and unheralded Akhisar shocking them with a 3-2 cup final win. They opened their 2017/18 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.
• This is the Istanbul club's fifth appearance at this stage of the competition and they have qualified for the knockout phase on each of the previous four occasions, most recently in 2016/17 when they topped a group featuring eventual winners Manchester United. Their most successful campaign was in 2012/13, when they reached the semi-finals.
• Having won all three Istanbul fixtures in that 2016/17 group stage, Fenerbahçe made it four group stage home wins in a row with their matchday two success against Trnava, that result ending a four-match sequence without a European victory in their own stadium. The Yellow Canaries have scored at least once in each of their last 16 European home games.
• Third in Belgium last term behind Club Brugge and Standard Liège, Anderlecht's European reward was automatic qualification for the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• The Brussels club are competing at this juncture of the competition for the sixth time and have never failed to progress to the knockout phase, reaching the quarter-finals on their most recent participation, in 2016/17.
• Anderlecht have lost eight of their last ten European fixtures, failing to score in six of them. However, they have lost just one of their last five away fixtures in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W2 D2), contributing to an overall record of W7 D4 L5.
Links and trivia
• As the coach of Gent, Hein Vanhaezebrouck claimed home (2-0) and away (1-0) wins over Turkish club Konyaspor in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Fenerbahçe's long-serving Turkish international goalkeeper Volkan Demirel – who played in the 2007/08 win at Anderlecht – is married to a former Miss Belgium, Zeynep Sever, with whom he has two daughters.
• Fenerbahçe parted company with coach Phillip Cocu on 29 October. His place has been taken on an interim basis by his assistant, and fellow Dutchman, Erwin Koeman. Formerly the right-hand man also to his brother, Ronald, at Southampton and Everton, the 57-year-old has been a head coach in his own right in the past, including stints with Feyenoord (2005–07) and Hungary (2008–10). A left-footed midfielder, he had successful spells with Mechelen and PSV Eindhoven and won EURO '88 with the Netherlands.
• After a successful three-year spell with Gent, during which he led the club to their first Belgian title, in 2014/15, and into the UEFA Champions League round of 16 the following season, Hein Vanhaezebrouck was appointed as Anderlecht boss in October 2017, succeeding René Weiler. He first established his coaching credentials during two spells in the dugout of home-town club Kortrijk, whom he had also represented during a modest playing career.