Standard Liège face a must-win fixture on matchday five when they welcome UEFA Europa League specialists Sevilla.
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The pressure is on Standard Liège as they go into their penultimate Group J fixture needing a win at home to UEFA Europa League specialists Sevilla to ensure they remain in contention for a place in the knockout phase. The Spanish club, who overwhelmed Standard 5-1 in Andalusia on matchday one, will go through if they avoid defeat in Belgium.
• Standard recovered from that opening day setback to win both of their next two games, 2-1 at home to Akhisar Belediyespor and Krasnodar, but a defeat by the same score in the reverse fixture against the Russian side has left them three points adrift of both Sevilla and Krasnodar. That means they will be out if they pick up fewer points against Sevilla than Krasnodar manage at home to point-less Akhisar.
• Sevilla lost 2-1 at Krasnodar on matchday two but scored six without reply at home to Akhisar before completing the double over the debutants with a 3-2 win in Turkey. As long as they do not lose in Liege, the three-time UEFA Europa League winners will qualify for the knockout phase with a game to spare.
• Standard are the only Belgian club Sevilla have ever faced in UEFA competition, and following that matchday one win in which Éver Banega and Wissam Ben Yedder both scored twice, their record is W2 D1 L1. However, the Andalusian club have yet to win, or score, in Belgium.
• Standard have won only two of their seven home games against Spanish visitors, including 1-0 against Sevilla in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage. One of their three defeats was a 7-1 group stage reverse by Athletic Club in 2004/05, their heaviest home defeat in the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League.
• Standard enjoyed a fruitful 2017/18 season, finishing runners-up in the Belgian league and winning an eighth domestic cup. Their hopes of a first UEFA Champions League group campaign in nine years ended at the hands of Ajax in this season's third qualifying round – their point of entry – with a 5-2 aggregate defeat, sending them instead into the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• The Liege club have competed in the UEFA Europa League group stage in four previous campaigns, but have only once made further progress, in 2011/12, when they went on to the round of 16. They were quarter-finalists in the inaugural 2009/10 season after switching over mid-campaign from the UEFA Champions League.
• Standard's matchday three win against Krasnodar was only their fourth at home in 14 UEFA Europa League group stage matches (D5 L5), but they are now unbeaten in eight European home fixtures (W4 D4) – albeit without keeping a clean sheet in any of them – since losing 0-3 to Feyenoord in December 2014.
• Although they were UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists last term, seventh place in Spain's Liga meant that Sevilla's first match back in the UEFA Europa League since their 2016 final success against Liverpool was in the second qualifying round. They came through their opening tie, against Hungary's Újpest, with ease, winning both legs, and it was the same story in subsequent rounds against Žalgiris Vilnius and Sigma Olomouc.
• This is Sevilla's fourth appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage. They have always progressed through to the knockout phase, winning the competition in both 2013/14 and 2014/15. The hat-trick triumph of 2015/16 came after they had crossed over from the UEFA Champions League during the winter.
• Sevilla have won nine of their ten European games this season, racking up 32 goals and conceding just six. The matchday two loss at Krasnodar is one of only two defeats they have suffered in their last 11 European away games (W6 D3). Their away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W5 D3 L3 and in the tournament proper as a whole W11 D7 L6.
Links and trivia
• Standard's Guillermo Ochoa (Málaga and Granada), Medhi Carcela (Granada) and Maxime Lestienne (Málaga) have all played club football in southern Spain.
• Paul-José Mpoku scored Standard's consolation goal away to Sevilla in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League group stage (1-3) during his first spell at the club.
• Sevilla are the highest-scoring team in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage with 15 goals – one more than Salzburg in Group B. The all-time record for the most goals scored in the group stage of the competition is Napoli's 22 in 2015/16.
• Sevilla's matchday four win at Akhisar was their 30th in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, putting them level with fellow three-time winners Atlético Madrid. Only two clubs – Salzburg (35) and Villarreal (34) – have registered more.
• A former goalkeeper who played 58 times for Belgium, Michel Preud'homme started out with Standard, winning two league titles before making further waves with Mechelen, notably in their European Cup Winners' Cup triumph of 1988/89. He has enjoyed similar success as a coach, winning trophies with every club he has managed, most recently the 2015/16 Belgian league with Club Brugge. This is his third spell in charge at Standard.
• Pablo Machín was appointed by Sevilla as their new head coach on a two-year contract in May 2018 – a reward for four progressive campaigns at the helm of Catalan outfit Girona, whom he guided into the Spanish top flight before exceeding expectations by leading them to a tenth-placed Liga finish in 2017/18. Forced to retire from playing at 23, he had a lengthy association with home-town club Numancia before joining Girona in 2014. This is his first season on the European stage.