Gent and Wolfsburg will both be looking to consolidate a positive start to Group I as they meet again in Belgium.
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Gent and Wolfsburg will both be looking to consolidate a positive start to Group I as they meet again in Belgium four and a half years after a round of 16 engagement in the UEFA Champions League.
• Both clubs won at home on Matchday 1 before drawing away two weeks later. Gent beat Saint-Étienne 3-2 and held Olexandriya 1-1 while Wolfsburg kicked off their campaign by beating the Ukrainian debutants 3-1 in Germany and then shared the spoils at St-Étienne (1-1).
• Wolfsburg won both of those 2015/16 UEFA Champions League matches, the first for both clubs in the knockout phase of that competition, a 3-2 away victory in the first leg for Dieter Hecking's side preceding a 1-0 success at home.
• Those are Wolfsburg's only previous matches against a Belgian club, whereas Gent have played four others against German opposition, winning both ties against Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1991/92 UEFA Cup second round (0-0 h, 1-0 a) and Werder Bremen in the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round (3-2 a, 0-1 h). They have therefore never beaten a German club at home (D1 L2).
• Fifth in the 2018/19 Belgian top flight, and also runners-up in the domestic cup, Gent qualified for Europe for the fifth successive season, extending the longest sequence in the club's history.
• Ousted in the qualifying phase of the UEFA Europa League in each of the past two seasons, they came through three ties to reach the group stage this term, defeating Romania's Viitorul (6-3 h, 1-2 a), AEK Larnaca of Cyprus (1-1 a, 3-0 h) and, in the play-offs, Croatian club Rijeka (2-1 h, 1-1 a). Their two previous participations at this juncture of the competition had different outcomes, with elimination in 2010/11 and progress through to the round of 16 in 2016/17.
• Gent are undefeated in their last nine European home games against foreign opposition (W6 D3). The last European fixture they lost on home soil was against another Belgian club, Genk, in the 2016/17 round of 16 (2-5).
• A sixth-placed finish in last season's Bundesliga ensured Wolfsburg direct entry into the group stage and a first European campaign since they reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League in 2015/16.
• The German club are competing in the UEFA Europa League group stage for a second time, their 2014/15 campaign having ended in the quarter-finals at the hands of Napoli. They also reached the last eight in the competition's inaugural 2009/10 season having finished third in their UEFA Champions League section.
• Quarter-finalists therefore in each of their last three European campaigns, Wolfsburg are unbeaten in their last six UEFA Europa League away fixtures (W3 D3). Their overall away record in the competition is W3 D5 L2, both defeats having come in England.
Links and trivia
• There are four survivors at each club from that 2015/16 UEFA Champions League meeting – Laurent Depoitre, Nana Asare, Sven Kums and Brecht Dejaegere for Gent, Koen Casteels, Robin Knocke, Maximilan Arnold and Josuha Guilavogui for Wolfsburg. Kums scored one of Gent's goals in the first leg.
• Belgian Under-21 international goalkeeper Casteels started his career in his homeland with Genk, though he never played a senior game before moving to German side Hoffenheim in 2011.
• Gent skipper Vadis Odjidja had a short spell in Germany with Hamburg in 2008/09 after leaving his first club Anderlecht.
• A tall striker who spent most of his playing career in his native Denmark with OB and Esbjerg but also had short spells in Germany, Austria and Norway, Jess Thorup has lately become one of his country's most upwardly mobile coaches. After a two-year stint in charge of the Danish Under-21 side he became Midtjylland's head coach in 2015 and steered the Jutland club to the Superliga title in 2017/18. That prompted interest from abroad and he was recruited in October 2018 by Gent, whom he guided to a runners-up spot in the Belgian Cup and a fifth-placed finish in the league in his first season.
• Austrian coach Oliver Glasner signed a three-year contract in the spring of 2019 to succeed Bruno Labbadia at Wolfsburg. He arrived in Germany with a growing reputation having led LASK Linz to a runners-up spot in the Austrian Bundesliga just two seasons after steering the club to promotion from the second tier. A former centre-back, Glasner spent virtually his entire career with Ried, with whom he won the Austrian Cup twice, in 1998 and 2011. He also spent a season as the club's coach before joining LASK in 2015.
The FootballPeople weeks take place from 10 to 24 October 2019 and are organised by UEFA's social responsibility partner Fare. The weeks are a global campaign aimed at tackling discrimination and celebrating diversity in football. The UEFA Europa League is offering its full support to the FootballPeople weeks; teams will line up for a mixed photo with the referees, while an #EqualGame hashtag will also be on display. Videos will be played on giant screens at stadiums across Europe, and child mascots will be wearing #FootballPeople t-shirts. UEFA's collaboration with the Fare network's FootballPeople weeks has been running since 2001. The aim of this initiative fits in perfectly with the goals of #EqualGame, which is looking to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility.