Fenerbahçe suffered a heavy defeat at Dinamo Zagreb but are now hoping to join their opponents in the round of 32.
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The top two teams in UEFA Europa League Group D meet in Istanbul, with hosts Fenerbahçe seeking to book a place in the round of 32 alongside Dinamo Zagreb. The visitors' maximum haul of 12 points has already secured them springtime UEFA competition football for the first time as representatives of Croatia.
• Fenerbahçe have taken seven points from their last three Group D fixtures, winning both home games 2-0 against Spartak Trnava and Anderlecht. They will qualify for the knockout phase with a win, or if their result against Dinamo is not bettered by Trnava in Brussels.
• Dinamo's qualification was confirmed on matchday four as they completed the double over Trnava with a 3-1 home win, having previously won two away fixtures on the trot – 2-0 in Belgium and 2-1 in Slovakia.
• Dinamo hammered Fenerbahçe 4-1 in Zagreb on matchday one, Izet Hajrović scoring twice in what was the Istanbul side's first European encounter with a Croatian club.
• Dinamo's two previous ties with Turkish opposition came when the club was representing Yugoslavia, a victory over Beşiktaş in the 1988/89 UEFA Cup first round followed by defeat at the same stage of the same competition against Trabzonspor three years later. Their record in Turkey is D1 L1.
• 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 2018/19 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 five group stage home wins in a row with their matchday four success against Anderlecht. The Yellow Canaries have scored in each of their last 17 European home games.
• Dinamo made amends for a rare trophy-less 2016/17 campaign by winning the Croatian league and cup double in 2017/18 – their third in four seasons. They also appeared to be heading for a third UEFA Champions League group stage in four years when they eliminated Hapoel Beer Sheva and Astana, then drew 1-1 in the first leg of their play-off away to Young Boys, but a 1-2 defeat in Zagreb sent them into the UEFA Europa League instead.
• Dinamo have progressed beyond the group stage of this competition for the first time in five attempts. Indeed, this is the first time they have qualified from a group stage in any continental competition, at the 14th time of asking, having never previously stretched their European involvement into the spring under the flag of Croatia. The last time they were active in the latter stages of a UEFA competition was as a Yugoslav club in the 1969/70 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals.
• Dinamo are unbeaten in their last seven European fixtures on the road (W3 D4), the matchday two win at Anderlecht finally bringing an end to a sorry run of 19 successive away defeats in group stage games across both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League that had lasted almost eight years.
Links and trivia
• Fenerbahçe's teenage talent Elif Elmas and Dinamo skipper Arijan Ademi are team-mates for FYR Macedonia.
• Dinamo are one of four clubs with maximum points from the opening four UEFA Europa League fixtures, the others being Salzburg (Group B), Eintracht Frankfurt (H) and Chelsea (L).
• Having parted company with coach Phillip Cocu on 29 October, Fenerbahçe appointed his assistant, fellow Dutchman Erwin Koeman, in his place on an interim basis. 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.
• A former Croatian international midfielder, capped nine times between 2001 and 2004, Nenad Bjelica played for Osijek in his homeland, winning the Croatian Cup in 1999, but spent most of his career abroad – in Spain, Germany and Austria. He began coaching while still playing for FC Kärnten and had spells in Italy with Spezia and Poland with Lech Poznań before being appointed Dinamo Zagreb boss in May 2018 – just days before the club completed a league and cup double.