Malmö v Chelsea background

No Swedish side has reached the UEFA Europa League round of 16; to become the first, Malmö must overcome European heavyweights Chelsea.

Malmö celebrate their decisive matchday six win at Beşiktaş
Malmö celebrate their decisive matchday six win at Beşiktaş ©AFP/Getty Images

Bidding to become the first Swedish side to reach the UEFA Europa League round of 16, Malmö take on Chelsea for the first time with the English heavyweights aiming to repeat their trophy triumph of six years ago.

• Malmö created one of the upsets of the group stage as they qualified as runners-up in Group I, completing the double over Beşiktaş with a matchday six 1-0 win in Istanbul that enabled them to leapfrog their hosts into second place behind Genk.

• Chelsea's round of 32 berth was booked on matchday four as they dominated Group L, dropping their only points on their final outing, when they were held 2-2 by Hungarian champions Vidi in Budapest.

Best goals of the 2018/19 group stage
Best goals of the 2018/19 group stage

Previous meetings
• Malmö's most famous fixture against English opposition was their first – the 1979 European Champion Clubs' Cup final against Nottingham Forest, which they lost 1-0 in Munich. Their only win against an English club was also against Forest 16 years later – 2-1 at home in the UEFA Cup first round – but they lost the return 1-0 and exited on away goals.

• Chelsea's two previous trips to Sweden both ended in goalless draws – against Åtvidaberg in the 1971/72 European Cup Winners' Cup second round, eliminating them on away goals, and against Helsingborg in the first round of the same competition 17 years later, which enabled them to progress after a 1-0 first leg win at Stamford Bridge. The west London club were holders of the trophy at the time of both ties.

Form guide
Malmö
• 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 that group stage for the third time in five years was ended on away goals by Vidi in the third qualifying round but they secured an autumn of European participation – as Sweden's sole representatives – by beating Danish title holders Midtjylland in the UEFA Europa League play-offs.

Brightest stars of the #UEL group stage
Brightest stars of the #UEL group stage

• Malmö's only previous UEFA Europa League group stage involvement, in 2011/12, brought just a single point, but they chalked up nine this term, losing their opening fixture at Genk (0-2) but remaining unbeaten over the next five matchdays, three successive draws bookended by their two wins against Beşiktaş.

• The Swedish club are competing in springtime European football for the first time since 1986/87 – when they lost 3-2 on aggregate (1-0 home, 1-3 away) in the European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals to a Marco van Basten-inspired Ajax, the eventual winners – and only the second time since that run to the European Cup final 40 years ago.

• Malmö are unbeaten in their last eight continental home games, though six have been draws. The last time they lost a European encounter in their own stadium– 0-5 against Paris Saint-Germain in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League group stage – it was their heaviest home defeat in UEFA competition.

Chelsea
• Chelsea finished fifth in defence of their Premier League title last season, and beat Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup final to book a first ever place in the UEFA Europa League group stage.

• The London side made light work of negotiating a safe passage through to the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, doing the double over PAOK (1-0 away, 4-0 home) and BATE Borisov (3-1 home, 1-0 away) before Vidi, who had lost 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, denied them a clean sweep on matchday six.

Europa League group stage skillzone
Europa League group stage skillzone

• This is Chelsea's second appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, their first, in 2012/13, having concluded with victory in the competition overall. Their route to that final in Amsterdam, where they defeated Benfica 2-1, incorporated two wins and two defeats away from home. They overcame Sparta Praha in the round of 32 (1-0 away, 1-1 home).

• Chelsea are nine games unbeaten in the UEFA Europa League, the 2-2 draw at Vidi having ended a run of eight successive wins that incorporated the last three matches of their victorious 2013 campaign. Their last away defeat was 2-3 at Rubin Kazan in the second leg of that season's quarter-final, after a 3-1 win in London.

UEFA Europa League squad changes
Malmö
In: Adi Nalic, Dušan Melichárek, Anel Ahmedhodžić, Lamin Sarr
Out: Fredrik Andersson, Felix Konstandeliasz, Mathias Nilsson, Walter Viitala

Chelsea
In: Danny Drinkwater, Gonzalo Higuaín
Out: Cesc Fàbregas, Victor Moses, Álvaro Morata

Links and trivia
• Malmö coach Uwe Rösler played for Manchester City, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion and has also managed Brentford, Wigan Athletic, Leeds United and Fleetwood.

• Markus Rosenberg (West Brom, 2012–14) and Marcus Antonsson (Leeds and Blackburn, 2016–18) have played in England.

• Antonsson and Chelsea's Olivier Giroud are both bidding to score in a fourth successive UEFA Europa League match, having each found the net on matchdays four, five and six.

• Chelsea's Ruben Loftus-Cheek is one of only two players to have scored a hat-trick in this season's UEFA Europa League proper, on matchday three at home to BATE. The other is Salzburg's Takumi Minamino, against Rosenborg.

• Gonzalo Higuaín, Chelsea's new loan signing from Juventus, played for AC Milan in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage, scoring two goals in five appearances.

The best saves of the group stage
The best saves of the group stage

• This is Malmö's club-record 15th European game of the season – more than any other team in the round of 32 bar Celtic, who also kicked off their continental campaign in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round.

• Chelsea are one of seven teams to have come through the UEFA Europa League group stage undefeated, alongside Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal, Betis, Villarreal and Eintracht Frankfurt.

• Malmö are one of only five clubs involved in this round of 32 who have never previously participated in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase; Zürich, Dinamo Zagreb, Slavia Praha and Rennes are the others.

• Chelsea are one of only two clubs still in the competition to have previously won the UEFA Europa League, alongside three-time winners Sevilla. Eight others lifted the trophy in its previous guise as the UEFA Cup.

• Malmö have already qualified for the qualifying phase of the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League, having finished third in the 2018 Allsvenskan. They finished nine points adrift of AIK, who succeeded them as Swedish champions.

The coaches
• 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 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.

• Named as the new Chelsea boss in succession to his fellow Italian, Antonio Conte, in July 2018, Maurizio Sarri is widely considered to be one of Europe's most progressive coaches. He paid his dues in Italy's lower leagues with a multitude of clubs before getting his big break at Empoli, whom he steered into Serie A, and then replaced Rafael Benítez at Napoli in 2015. Three seasons in Naples all brought top-three finishes, his entertaining side running Juventus close for the Scudetto in 2017/18.

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