Sevilla's quest for a sixth competition triumph takes them to a Qarabağ side in the group stage for the fifth time in six years.
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Sevilla's quest for a record-extending sixth UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League starts in Group A with a visit to Baku, host city of last season's final, to take on Azerbaijani champions Qarabağ, who are appearing in the group stage for the fifth time in six seasons.
• Sevilla have never previously faced a club from Azerbaijan in UEFA competition, but Qarabağ have happy memories of their only other two encounters with a Spanish club, drawing both matches against Atlético Madrid (0-0 h, 1-1 a) in the group stage of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League – their only two points in the section.
• Qarabağ were Azerbaijani champions for the sixth season running in 2018/19 – and seventh overall – having finished eight points clear of runners-up Neftçi. They also made it to a fifth successive European group stage, in the UEFA Europa League, though lost five of their six matches, including both against Sporting CP and Arsenal, the only consolation a 1-0 win away to Vorskla Poltava.
• This season, as in 2018/19, Qarabağ began their European journey in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round but were eliminated two rounds later, by APOEL (2-1 a, 0-2 h), before an away-goals win against Linfield in the UEFA Europa League play-offs (2-3 a, 2-1 h). They have never extended their European involvement into the spring.
• Qarabağ have not won any of their last seven home European group games, losing six, the exception that 0-0 draw against Atlético. They lost all three last season, incurring their heaviest European home defeat as they went down 6-1 to Sporting on matchday five.
• Sevilla played 16 UEFA Europa League matches last season, travelling from the second qualifying round to the round of 16, where they were dramatically eliminated by Slavia Praha after a 4-3 extra-time defeat in the Czech capital. Sevilla had topped Group J with 12 points, scoring 18 goals – the most in the group stage.
• The Andalusian club re-qualified for this competition by finishing sixth in the 2018/19 Liga, which assured them an automatic group stage berth and a fifth appearance at this juncture. They have never failed to go through to the round of 32, though have been group winners only twice.
• Sevilla's away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W5 D4 L3, two of those defeats having come last season – at Krasnodar (1-2) and Standard Liège (0-1).
Links and trivia
• Qarabağ and Sevilla are both appearing in European competition for the seventh season in a row, having last been absent in 2012/13.
• There are three Spanish nationals in Qarabağ's squad – midfield trio Míchel, Jaime Romero and Dani Quintana.
• Sevilla's Portuguese defender Daniel Carriço has played 59 matches in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, more than any other player.
• Two more goals will enable Sevilla to make it 100 in the UEFA Europa League proper, a milestone so far reached by only four other clubs – Villarreal, Salzburg, Lazio and Athletic Club.
• Qarabağ coach Gurban Gurbanov is Azerbaijan's highest-scoring international with 12 goals in 64 matches. While he regularly changed club as a player, he celebrated 11 years as head coach of Qarabağ in August 2019, during which time he has led the club to six successive national league titles, four Azerbaijani Cups and European group stage involvement in each of the last six seasons, including a maiden UEFA Champions League adventure in 2017/18. He doubled up as the coach of Azerbaijan from January to December 2018.
• Sevilla appointed Julen Lopetegui as their new head coach on a three-year contract in June 2019, the former goalkeeper returning to duty in the Spanish Liga after a brief spell in charge of Real Madrid had swiftly ended in October 2018. A highly successful stint with Spain's youth selections brought European titles with the Under-19s in 2012 and U21s the following year. He had 18 months at Porto before taking charge of the senior Spain side and qualifying them for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, only to be dismissed on the eve of the tournament.