A draw against Group C leaders Zenit will be enough for Slavia Praha to join the Russian club in the knockout rounds.
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The top two teams in UEFA Europa League Group C do battle in the Czech capital, with goal-shy Slavia Praha needing to avoid defeat against section winners Zenit to guarantee a place alongside their Russian visitors in the knockout phase.
• Slavia are four points behind Zenit but two ahead of FC København, against whom they have a favourable head-to-head record, and three better off than Bordeaux. Should the Czech side win or draw against Zenit, they cannot finish anywhere other than second, but if they lose and there is a winner in the other matchday six encounter between FCK and Bordeaux, they will drop to third place and be eliminated.
• Zenit clinched a sixth appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase – and fourth out of four as winners of their group – by defeating København 1-0 in St Petersburg on matchday five. They are unbeaten in the section with three home wins and two away draws.
• Despite a wealth of European experience on both sides, Zenit had never faced Czech opposition nor had Slavia met a club from Russia until the matchday two encounter in St Petersburg, which Zenit won 1-0 with a late Aleksandr Kokorin strike.
• As runners-up to Viktoria Plzeň in the 2017/18 Czech Liga, Slavia earned a spot in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, where defeat to Dynamo Kyiv (1-1 home, 0-2 away) sent them into the UEFA Europa League group stage. They also won the Czech Cup last term, defeating Jablonec 3-1 in the final.
• Slavia's two previous UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, in 2009/10 and 2017/18, both ended unsuccessfully, a surprising matchday six home defeat to Astana halting their progress last season.
• The Prague club have claimed just two home wins in eight attempts in the UEFA Europa League group stage (D3 L3). They have managed just five goals in those eight matches and have found the net just twice in their last six group encounters, home and away.
• 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 every time, and always as group winners, reaching the round of 16 last season before going out to RB Leipzig. UEFA Cup winners in 2008, they are one of six clubs in this season's group stage to have lifted the trophy.
• Zenit's 1-1 draw in Copenhagen on matchday one ended a run of four successive European away defeats, but they are still now without a win in six going back to the final matchday of last season's UEFA Europa League, when they won 3-1 at Real Sociedad. Even so, their all-time record on the road in the group stage of the competition is an impressive W7 D3 L1, with 28 goals scored in those 11 fixtures.
Links and trivia
• Miroslav Stoch (Slavia) and Branislav Ivanović (Zenit) played together for Chelsea in 2008/09.
• Stoch scored the only goal as Slovakia beat Russia 1-0 away in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier. Róbert Mak, Zenit's match-winner in both group games against København, is a fellow Slovakian international.
• Slavia's Tomáš Souček scored past Zenit's Andrei Lunev to give the Czech Republic a consolation goal in a 5-1 friendly defeat against Russia in Rostov this September, with Zenit pair Anton Zabolotnyi and Aleksandr Erokhin among the scorers for the hosts.
• Zenit have won their UEFA Europa League group for the third successive season – a feat previously achieved by only two clubs, PSV Eindhoven and Sporting CP, who both recorded their hat-trick in the first three seasons of the competition (2009/10–2011/12).
• Zenit have scored at least once in all 23 of their UEFA Europa League group stage fixtures, registering 58 goals overall. However, their total of six goals this season is the lowest of any of the 12 teams going into matchday six as group leaders. Furthermore, Slavia's tally of just two goals is the lowest of any of the 12 second-placed sides.
• Heavily influenced by Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, Jindřich Trpišovský started out as a youth coach at Sparta Praha before impressing with his work at second-division Viktoria Žižkov despite financial problems. He then took over at Slovan Liberec in 2017, leading the club into the UEFA Europa League group stage two seasons running. He left Liberec for Slavia in December 2017 and won the Czech Cup with the Prague outfit the following spring.
• 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.