Genk and Slavia Praha drew a blank in the first game in the Czech Republic, meaning it is all to play for in Belgium.
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After a goalless first leg in Prague, Genk and Slavia Praha meet again in north-eastern Belgium to decide which of the two clubs, who are both leading their domestic leagues despite defeats away to their closest rivals last weekend, will progress through to the UEFA Europa League round of 16.
• Genk topped a competitive Group I with 11 points, concluding their autumn campaign with a 4-0 home win against Sarpsborg, while the Czech side made it through the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time after two previous failures, finishing runners-up in Group C to Zenit, whom they defeated 2-0 in Prague on matchday six to seal their qualification with ten points.
• Honours were even in the Eden Arena as the clubs met for the first time, the frame of the goal denying both Slavia’s Milan Škoda and Genk’s Leandro Trossard in the first half.
• Genk's only previous tie against Czech opposition was an away-goals success against Slavia's city rivals Sparta Praha in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round (2-0 home, 2-4 away) which took them into that competition's group stage for the first time.
• Slavia have won just two of their nine matches against Belgian sides, none in Belgium where their record is D1 L3. Prior to the first leg of this tie they had lost their last four fixtures (home and away), all to Anderlecht, most recently a pair of 0-3 defeats in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League play-offs. They have now gone four games without a goal against Belgian opposition.
• Fifth in the Belgian First Division A last term and also runners-up in the domestic cup, Genk's European prize – after a play-off win – was a UEFA Europa League second qualifying round berth. They sailed through their opening tie against Luxembourg's Fola Esch (5-0 home, 4-1 away), before also winning both legs against Lech Poznań and Brøndby to make it six wins out of six with 22 goals scored.
• Genk have a perfect qualifying record from the UEFA Europa League group stage, having progressed as group winners to the knockout phase on all four participations, in 2012/13, 2013/14, 2016/17 and this season, when they headed a section featuring Malmö, Beşiktaş and Sarpsborg.
• Their best performance in the competition was in 2016/17, when they reached the quarter-finals, having overcome Romania's Astra in the round of 32 (2-2 away, 1-0 home). Their previous two round of 32 ties had ended in defeat – against Stuttgart in 2012/13 (1-1 away, 0-2 home) and Anji in 2013/14 (0-0 away, 0-2 home). They have therefore lost two of their three home legs at this stage of the competition.
• Genk's five wins and one draw at home this term have stretched their unbeaten run in Europe on Belgian soil to 16 matches (including a 5-2 win at Gent in 2016/17), with 13 of those fixtures ending in victory. They had scored at least once in 28 successive European matches until the first leg of this tie; the previous game in which they failed to find the net – 0-2 at Budućnost Podgorica in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League second qualifying round second leg – ended in triumph in any case after they prevailed 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out.
• Genk's record in UEFA competition ties after drawing the first leg away is W3 L3. That 2013/14 round of 32 defeat by Anji featured their sole previous 0-0 away first-leg draw.
• 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 by Dynamo Kyiv (1-1 home, 0-2 away) sent them into the UEFA Europa League group stage. They 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 against Astana halting their progress last season.
• They did reach the UEFA Cup round of 32 in 2007/08 – the last time they competed in Europe during the spring – when they were eliminated by Tottenham Hotspur (1-2 home, 1-1 away). Their most recent appearance in the last 16 of a European competition was in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup.
• A 1-0 success in Copenhagen on matchday three is only the second European away win recorded by Slavia in their last 25 such fixtures (D10 L13). They have failed to score in their three other away fixtures in this season's UEFA Europa League – defeats at Dynamo, Zenit (0-1) and Bordeaux (0-2).
• Slavia have won three of the eight UEFA ties in which they have drawn the first leg at home. All three victories have come after goalless draws, with one win after extra time and two on away goals, most recently against Rio Ave in the 2016/17 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round (1-1 away). They have been unsuccessful just once in trying to defend a 0-0 draw on foreign terrain, losing to Kaiserslautern in the 2000/01 UEFA Cup fourth round (0-1 away).
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Neto Borges, Casper De Norre, Junya Ito
Out: Bojan Nastić, Ibrahima Seck, Edon Zhegrova
In: Lukáš Masopust, Petr Ševčík, Mick van Buren, Alex Král
Out: Libor Drozda, Jakub Hromada, David Macháček, Adam Petrák, Lukáš Pokorný, Stanislav Tecl, Matěj Valenta, Michal Vaněk
Links and trivia
• Slavia's Nigerian striker Peter Olayinka played in Belgium for Gent and Zulte Waregem, representing the latter in last season's 2-0 loss to Genk in the UEFA Europa League qualification play-off final.
• Genk coach Philippe Clement started both of Belgium's 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-offs against the Czech Republic, helping his country to a pair of 1-0 wins that clinched their berth in Korea/Japan.
• Slavia's January signing Lukás Masopust made three appearances for Jablonec in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Slavia scored just four goals in the group stage – the fewest by any of the 32 qualified teams, including the eight who finished third in their UEFA Champions League group.
• Slavia are one of only five clubs involved in this round of 32 who have never previously participated in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase; Dinamo Zagreb, Zürich, Malmö and Rennes are the others.
• Tanzanian striker Mbwana Samatta's tally of six goals for Genk in this season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase was bettered by only two players – Adeleke Akinyemi of Ventspils and Molde's Eirik Hestad, who both scored seven. Samatta also struck three times in the group stage and is therefore the leading marksman in the competition overall with nine.
• Slavia and Genk both led their respective domestic leagues at the winter break. The only other round of 32 participants to do likewise were Salzburg (Austria), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Zenit (Russia), Celtic (Scotland) and Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine).
• Genk's record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L0:
4-1 v Maccabi Haifa, 2011/12 UEFA Champions League play-off
4-2 v Budućnost Podgorica, 2016/17 UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
• Slavia's record in two UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W2 L0:
5-4 v Schalke, 1998/99 UEFA Cup first round
4-3 v Žilina, 2007/08 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
• A former Belgian international who represented his country at the 1998 FIFA World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 and won 38 caps, Philippe Clement was a defensive midfielder and centre-back who spent most of his career with Club Brugge, completing a decade at the club following a short spell in England with Coventry. He had made his Belgian top-flight debut with Genk, and returned in December 2017 to become head coach following a six-month stint at Waasland-Beveren.
• 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. 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.