Astan and Dynamo Kyiv are level on eight points in Group K, with one or both set to progress on matchday five.
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Level on eight points at the top of the UEFA Europa League Group K table, unbeaten Astana and Dynamo Kyiv meet in the capital of Kazakhstan in the knowledge that at least one of them will book their place in the round of 32 with a match to spare, possibly both depending on the outcome of the other game between Jablonec and Rennes.
• Astana are bidding to win all three home games for the first time in a group stage. They accounted for both Rennes (2-0) and Jablonec (2-1) in the first two either side of a 1-1 draw in the Czech Republic. A victory over Dynamo will send them through to the knockout phase as group winners, and they will also qualify if Rennes fail to beat Jablonec.
• Having drawn their opening two group games 2-2, Dynamo won both back-to-back fixtures against Rennes (2-1 away, 3-1 home) to put themselves in a strong position to qualify. They will be through if they avoid defeat in Astana, or if the other game is drawn, while a win will ensure their progress in first place.
• Astana had never faced Ukrainian opposition before drawing 2-2 away to Dynamo on matchday one thanks to a second equaliser struck deep into added time by Roman Murtazayev.
• Dynamo's only previous tie against a team from Kazakhstan yielded 11 goals as they romped to an 8-3 aggregate success against Aktobe in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League play-offs, winning the first leg in Kazakhstan 3-2.
• Astana, who claimed a fifth successive domestic league title last month, came through four qualifying ties during the summer – the first three in the UEFA Champions League – to complete a hat-trick of UEFA Europa League group stage participations. After defeating Sutjeska and Midtjylland but then losing to Dinamo Zagreb, they won their UEFA Europa League play-off on penalties – their first European shoot-out – against Cypriot champions APOEL after two 1-0 home wins.
• Having become the first team from Kazakhstan to play in the UEFA Champions League proper in 2015/16, Astana have spent the last three autumns in the UEFA Europa League. Their tally of five points in 2016/17 was not enough to see them through but last season they doubled that total to reach the round of 32, where they lost 6-4 over two legs to Sporting CP.
• Astana have won five of their six European home games this season, losing the other (0-2 to Dinamo Zagreb). Their overall record at home in UEFA group stage football is W4 D6 L1, the sole defeat having come on matchday five of last season's UEFA Europa League, 2-3 against Villarreal.
• Ukrainian league runners-up to Shakhtar Donetsk last term, Dynamo entered the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, where they defeated Slavia Praha 3-1 before going out in the play-offs to Ajax (1-3 away, 0-0 home).
• This is Dynamo's seventh involvement in the UEFA Europa League and sixth group stage campaign, four of the previous five having been successful, the exception coming in 2011/12. Their best performance was in 2014/15, when they reached the quarter-finals, having also been semi-finalists in the last ever UEFA Cup of 2008/09.
• Dynamo ended a run of six winless European matches on the road (D4 L2) with their 2-1 success at Rennes. They have a positive overall away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage of W8 D4 L5, falling to just one defeat in the last seven (W4 D2).
Links and trivia
• Astana's fifth victory in the Kazakh Premier League – they ended the season on 11 November 15 points clear of runners-up Kairat Almaty – equals the record held jointly by Irtysh Pavlodar and FK Aktobe. No other club had ever previously won the title five years in a row.
• Astana defender Sergei Maliy is from Ukraine, while team-mate Ivan Maevski played 11 matches for Belarus under Dynamo's head coach Aleksandr Khatskevich.
• Dynamo's Tamás Kádár and Astana's László Kleinheisler are both current Hungarian internationals, and Dynamo's Josip Pivarić and Astana's Marin Tomasov played together for Croatia in 2013.
• Dynamo's assistant coach Maksim Shatskikh played for Astana – when the club was known as Lokomotiv Astana – in 2009.
• Last month Astana announced that their Ukrainian head coach Roman Hryhorchuk, who was appointed only in June 2018, had gone on leave for personal reasons, with his assistant Grigoriy Babayan taking over as caretaker – a position the 38-year-old ex-Kairat player has assumed on three occasions previously.
• Hired as Dynamo coach in July 2017, Khatskevich won seven successive league titles with the club as a player between 1997 and 2004, having also claimed five straight championships with Dinamo Minsk in his native Belarus. He later worked with Dynamo's youth and reserve teams before taking charge of the Belarus national side from 2014 to 2016. He was capped 38 times by his country, scoring four international goals, three of them in qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.