It has been difficult to separate Wolfsburg and Gent in Group I, and so it proved on Matchday 3 with a 2-2 draw in Belgium.
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It has been difficult to separate Wolfsburg and Gent in Group I, the two undefeated clubs having registered the same number of points on each matchday, including the 2-2 draw between them in Belgium last time out, but victory for either team in the return fixture would put them in a strong position to qualify for the knockout phase.
• Both clubs won at home on Matchday 1 before drawing away two weeks later. Wolfsburg kicked off their campaign by beating Olexandriya 3-1 in Germany and then shared the spoils at St-Étienne (1-1), while Gent beat the French club 3-2 before holding Olexandriya 1-1 in Ukraine. It was a Ukrainian, Roman Yaremchuk, who rescued a point for Gent on Matchday 3 by scoring both goals, the second deep into added time, after visitors Wolfsburg had led through Wout Weghorst and João Víctor.
• The teams previously met in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League round of 16, the first time either club had reached that stage of the competition. Wolfsburg won both matches, a 3-2 away victory in the first leg for Dieter Hecking's side preceding a 1-0 success at home.
• Those were Wolfsburg's only previous matches against a Belgian club prior to Matchday 3, whereas Gent have played four others against German opposition, winning both ties against Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1991/92 UEFA Cup second round and Werder Bremen in the 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup third round thanks to victories in Germany.
• 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 won all five home fixtures in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League and have a UEFA Europa League home record of W6 D1 L3.
• 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 have won only once away in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final (D4 L4) – a vital last-gasp 1-0 victory at Konyaspor on Matchday 6 in 2016/17 that took them through to the next round. They have drawn all three away fixtures in the competition since then.
Links and trivia
• There are four survivors at each club from that 2015/16 UEFA Champions League tie – Koen Casteels, Robin Knocke, Maximilan Arnold and Josuha Guilavogui for Wolfsburg, Laurent Depoitre, Nana Asare, Sven Kums and Brecht Dejaegere for Gent. 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.
• Wolfsburg were unbeaten in all competitions this season – a run of 13 matches – until they crashed out of the German Cup on 30 October, losing 1-6 at home to RB Leipzig. They then made it two defeats in succession with a 3-0 Bundesliga loss at Borussia Dortmund three days later.
• 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.
• 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.