Genk won impressively at Beşiktaş and another victory would strengthen their position at the top of Group I.
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Genk host Beşiktaş on matchday four buoyed by their 4-2 victory over the same opponents in Istanbul. It was a result that put the Belgian side on top of the Group I table while relegating their Turkish opponents to the bottom.
• Both clubs won their opening home games – Genk 2-0 against Malmö, Beşiktaş 3-1 against Sarpsborg – before losing in Scandinavia on matchday two, the Belgian club falling to a 3-1 defeat in Norway and the Turkish side going down 2-0 to Malmö in Sweden. On matchday three a double from Genk's Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta helped power them to victory in Istanbul, Vágner Love's two goals for Beşiktaş proving too little too late.
• The match on 25 October was the first UEFA encounter between the clubs and Genk's first experience of Turkish opposition.
• Beşiktaş were unbeaten in their first four matches against Belgian clubs, but they have lost their last three, including their most recent game in Belgium, when Club Brugge beat them 2-1 en route to a 5-2 aggregate victory in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League round of 16.
• Fourth in the Belgian First Division A last term and also runners-up in the domestic cup, Genk's European prize was a UEFA Europa League second qualifying round berth. They sailed through their opening tie against Luxembourg's Fola Esch, 9-1 on aggregate (5-0 home, 4-1 away), before also winning both legs against Lech Poznań and Brøndby to make it six wins out of six with 22 goals scored.
• Genk have a perfect qualifying record from the UEFA Europa League group stage, having progressed to the knockout phase on each of their previous three participations, in 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2016/17. They reached the quarter-finals of the latter campaign, defeating fellow Belgian club Gent in the round of 16.
• Genk's four home wins out of four this term have stretched their unbeaten run in Europe on Belgian soil to 14 matches (including a 5-2 win at Gent), with 11 of those fixtures ending in victory. They have scored at least once in all of their last 25 European matches, and the last game in which they failed to find the net – 0-2 at Budućnost Podgorica in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League second qualifying round second leg – ended in triumph in any case after they prevailed 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out.
• Bidding for a hat-trick of Turkish titles, Beşiktaş could only finish fourth in the 2017/18 Süper Lig, which earned them a berth in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round. They saw off B36, LASK and, in the play-offs, Partizan to reach the group stage.
• Beşiktaş are back in the UEFA Europa League after a season's absence, during which they reached the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League as group winners. They have progressed from their group three times out of four in the UEFA Europa League, though the one failure came on their most recent appearance, in 2015/16. They reached the quarter-finals of the competition the following season after switching over from the UEFA Champions League in mid-campaign.
• The Istanbul club won all three away fixtures in last season's UEFA Champions League group – at Porto, Monaco and RB Leipzig – to top their section for the first time, but they have just one win from their last five European games outside Istanbul (D1 L3). They have won at least once on the road in each of their four previous UEFA Europa League group campaigns, their overall away record standing at W5 D4 L4.
Links and trivia
• Genk coach Philippe Clement played for Club Brugge in a UEFA Cup group stage defeat (1-2) at Beşiktaş in November 2006, breaking a toe during the match.
• Jeremain Lens, who scored Beşiktaş's third goal in their opening win against Sarpsborg, became only the third player to make 50 appearances in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, against Malmö on matchday two. The Dutchman has previously featured in the competition for PSV Eindhoven, Dynamo Kyiv and Fenerbahçe.
• Samatta's tally of six goals for Genk in this season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase was bettered by only two players – Aedeleke Akinyemi of Ventspils and Eirik Hestad of Molde, who both scored seven. Samatta now has a total of nine for the whole competition.
• A former Belgian international who represented his country at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 and won 38 caps, Philippe Clement was a defensive midfielder and centre-back who spent most of his career with Club Brugge, completing a decade at the club following a short spell in England with Coventry. He had made his Belgian top-flight debut with Genk, and it was to the Limburg club that he returned in December 2017 to become head coach following a six-month stint at Waasland-Beveren.
• Beşiktaş coach Şenol Güneş famously guided Turkey to third place at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. A goalkeeper who spent the majority of his playing career at home-town Trabzonspor, a club he has returned to coach on three occasions – winning Turkish Cups in 1995 and 2010 – he led Beşiktaş to the 2015/16 Turkish title in his first season and subsequently took the Black Eagles to the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals and last term's UEFA Champions League round of 16 for the first time.