Beşiktaş are well placed to make it through from Group J while final opponents Malmö must win in Istanbul.
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A stunning comeback by Beşiktaş at Sarpsborg on matchday five has placed the Turkish club in a favourable position to qualify as they end their UEFA Europa League Group I campaign with a home fixture against Malmö, who must win in Istanbul, and thereby eliminate their hosts, to reach the round of 32.
• Beşiktaş's hopes of progress looked faint when they went 2-0 down in the first six minutes at Sarpsborg, but three second-half goals, the last on 90 minutes from competition stalwart Jeremain Lens, snatched a 3-2 win that lifted the Turkish club into second place on seven points. If they avoid defeat against Malmö they will qualify for the knockout phase, but a win for the Swedish side will knock them out.
• Malmö have drawn their last three group games, latterly 2-2 at home to section leaders Genk, leaving them in third place and having to beat Beşiktaş to finish in the top two.
• Malmö's only win in the group came at home to Beşiktaş on matchday two, an own goal and a penalty bringing a 2-0 triumph in southern Sweden.
• Malmö have now won three of their five meetings with Beşiktaş – their only Turkish opponents to date – and are unbeaten in their two Istanbul contests, having won 1-0 on their last visit, in the first round of the 2005/06 UEFA Cup (though they were eliminated after losing the return leg 1-4 at home).
• Beşiktaş's four UEFA Champions League matches in the 1990s against IFK Göteborg – their only other games against Swedish opponents – were all won by the home side, giving the Istanbul club an all-time home record against Swedish visitors of W2 D1 L1.
• 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 competing again 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 last 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 Black Eagles went down 2-4 in Istanbul to Genk on matchday three – only the second defeat in their last 18 European home matches (W9 D7), the other having come in last season's UEFA Champions League round of 16 against Bayern München (1-3). Prior to that setback against Genk they had won all of their previous eight home games in the UEFA Europa League, qualifying included.
• Swedish champions for a record 20th time in 2017, Malmö began this season's European campaign in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round. Their bid to reach the group stage of that competition for the third time in five years was checked on the away goals rule by Hungarian champions Vidi in the third qualifying round but they secured an autumn of European participation – as Sweden's sole representatives – by prevailing against Danish title holders Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League play-offs. Their eight qualifying matches brought four wins and four draws.
• Malmö's only previous UEFA Europa League group stage involvement was in 2011/12, when they opened with a 4-1 defeat at Dutch club AZ Alkmaar and never recovered, finishing bottom of the section with just one point.
• The Swedish club have played 11 away games in European group stages. Until they drew 1-1 at Sarpsborg on matchday three they had never registered a point on their travels, always losing by a margin of more than one goal. The 0-2 matchday one defeat at Genk, however, was their first away loss this season following four qualifying matches in which they did not concede.
Links and trivia
• Lens, who has scored three goals in this season's UEFA Europa League – all against Sarpsborg – became only the third player to make 50 appearances in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, when he faced Malmö on matchday two. The Dutchman has previously featured in the competition for PSV Eindhoven, Dynamo Kyiv and Fenerbahçe and is now, with 53 appearances, second on the all-time list behind Daniel Carriço (58).
• Malmö completed their 2018 Allsvenskan campaign last month, finishing third in the final standings – on goal difference above Hammarby – to qualify for the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League. Malmö finished nine points adrift of AIK, who succeeded them as Swedish champions.
• 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.
• Born in the former East Germany, Uwe Rösler left his homeland in 1994 to play up front for Manchester City, which he did for four years, thus forming a bond with English football that has brought him back to the country to manage four different lower-league clubs. His coaching career began in Norway, with Lillestrøm, his final club as a player, and in June 2018 he returned to Scandinavia to become the new head coach of reigning Swedish champions Malmö.