Dinamo Zagreb are already certain to finish first in Group D as they conclude against bottom side Anderlecht.
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First plays last as UEFA Europa League Group D comes to a close in the Croatian capital, undefeated Dinamo Zagreb having already qualified for the round of 32 as group winners – an unprecedented feat for the club – while eliminated Anderlecht face the prospect of ending a disappointing campaign without a victory.
• Dinamo hit the ground running with a 4-1 home win against Fenerbahçe on matchday one and notched up three further wins before drawing 0-0 with the same opponents in Istanbul last time out – a result that confirmed their qualification for the knockout phase in first place.
• Anderlecht lost their opening Group D match 1-0 at Spartak Trnava and never recovered. They have managed just two points and two goals – both in a 2-2 draw at home to Fenerbahçe – from their five matches and will finish bottom unless they beat Dinamo and Trnava, with whom they drew 0-0 in Brussels last time out, lose at home to Fenerbahçe.
• Dinamo defeated Anderlecht 2-0 in the Belgian capital on matchday two, thereby maintaining a trend as the clubs' only other encounters, in the inaugural UEFA Europa League season of 2009/10, had also produced two away wins, Anderlecht triumphing 2-0 in Zagreb and Dinamo prevailing 1-0 in Brussels. On that occasion the Belgian side topped the group and went on to reach the round of 16, whereas Dinamo could only finish third.
• Anderlecht's three other visits to Croatia have all brought defeats. Dinamo have won one and drawn one of their other two home games against Belgian opposition, the victory a 6-1 defeat of Beveren in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage.
• 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's record in Zagreb for the UEFA Europa League group stage is W5 D2 L7, but they have scored 17 goals in their last five such matches, winning four of them. The defeat by Young Boys in August is their only one, home or away, in their last 15 European outings (W8 D6).
• 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 had never failed to progress to the knockout phase in five previous UEFA Europa League group stage appearances before this season, their best performance coming in 2016/17, when they went as far as the quarter-finals.
• Anderlecht have lost nine of their last 12 European fixtures (W1 D2), failing to score in eight of them. They have also lost five of their last six on the road, the exception a 1-0 win at Celtic on matchday six of last season's UEFA Champions League that supplied their only points of the group.
Links and trivia
• Anderlecht pair Antonio Milić (ex-Hajduk Split) and Ivan Santini (ex-Zadar) are current Croatian national team-mates of Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livaković and have both played against Dinamo in the Croatian top flight.
• Izet Hajrović, who opened the scoring from the penalty spot in Brussels on matchday two, and Anderlecht's Ognjen Vranješ, who was sent off in that game, are national team-mates for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
• 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.
• 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.