Anderlecht can no longer qualify from Group D but victory against Spartak Trnava would take them above the Slovakian champions.
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Anderlecht's solitary point from their first four Group D fixtures means they can no longer qualify for the knockout phase. A first victory in the section, at home to Spartak Trnava, would however lift them off the foot of the table and eliminate their Slovakian opponents.
• A 2-0 defeat at Fenerbahçe on matchday four ended Anderlecht's hopes of finishing in the top two. It is the first time in six UEFA Europa League group stage participations that the Brussels club have failed to make further progress.
• Trnava are on a run of three straight Group D defeats, having lost 2-0 at Fenerbahçe and then home and away to section leaders Dinamo Zagreb. They cannot improve their position even with a win in Brussels, but to remain in contention they must avoid defeat and in so doing reduce the current four-point gap to second-placed Fenerbahçe, who simultaneously host already-qualified Dinamo.
• Trnava kicked off their UEFA group stage debut with a 1-0 home win against Anderlecht, defender Matej Oravec scoring the decisive goal. The two teams had been paired once previously in UEFA competition, in the 1972/73 European Champion Clubs' Cup second round, with Trnava, then representing Czechoslovakia, also posting 1-0 wins in both of those legs to advance to the quarter-finals.
• Those remain Trnava's only other encounters with Belgian opposition. Anderlecht, additionally, faced Slovan Bratislava two years later in the first round of the same competition, advancing on away goals thanks to a 3-1 second-leg win in the Belgian capital.
• Third in Belgium last term behind Club Brugge and Standard Liège, Anderlecht's European reward was automatic qualification for the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• The Brussels club had never failed to progress to the knockout phase in five previous UEFA Europa League group stage appearances before this season, their best performance coming in 2016/17, when they went as far as the quarter-finals.
• Anderlecht have lost nine of their last 11 European fixtures, failing to score in seven of them. They are also without a win in six continental encounters in Brussels (D2 L4). In the UEFA Europa League group stage, however, their home record is W9 D4 L4.
• Trnava's long wait for a national league title ended after 45 years when they lifted the Slovakian Superliga crown last season. It earned them a first crack at the UEFA Champions League, but after beating Zrinjski and Legia Warszawa in the opening two qualifying rounds, they fell to Crvena zvezda after extra time in the third. A UEFA Europa League play-off win over Olimpija Ljubljana (2-0 away, 1-1 home) carried them into the group stage.
• The victory against Olimpija made it third time lucky for Trnava after their two previous UEFA Europa League play-off ties – against Lokomotiv Moskva in 2011/12 and FC Zürich in 2014/15 – had both ended in defeat.
• Trnava have lost just three of their last 18 away matches in Europe (W8 D7). However, all but the last two – both defeats – were in the qualifying rounds.
Links and trivia
• Trnava coach Radoslav Látal has a positive experience against Anderlecht, having been in the Schalke side – then the holders – who eliminated the Brussels outfit from the UEFA Cup second round in 1997/98, winning both matches (1-0 home, 2-1 away).
• The Slovakian club are one of five making their debut this season in the UEFA Europa League proper, along with Akhisar, Dudelange, Jablonec and Sarpsborg.
• After a successful three-year spell with Gent, during which he led the club to their first Belgian title, in 2014/15, and into the UEFA Champions League round of 16 the following season, Hein Vanhaezebrouck was appointed as Anderlecht boss in October 2017, succeeding René Weiler. He first established his coaching credentials during two spells in the dugout of home-town club Kortrijk, whom he had also represented during a modest playing career.
• A member of the Czech Republic side that reached the final of EURO '96, Látal won the UEFA Cup with Schalke a year later and went on to compete in a second UEFA European Championship in 2000. The right-sided midfielder ended his playing career with league and cup successes for Baník Ostrava, but was less successful there in a short stint as a coach, prompting spells in Slovakia, Poland and Belarus before he took over at newly-crowned Slovak champions Spartak Trnava in June 2018.