Spartak Trnava v Fenerbahçe facts
All the major issues in UEFA Europa League Group D have been settled, but Spartak Trnava and Fenerbahçe will both be keen to sign off with a win as they renew acquaintance in Slovakia.
• Trnava kicked off their group campaign with a famous 1-0 home win against Anderlecht, but their only other point came in the return fixture against the Brussels club on matchday five. A point against Fenerbahçe will ensure that the Slovakian champions do not finish at the bottom of the group.
• Fenerbahçe clinched their place in the round of 32 as runners-up on matchday five with a goalless draw at home to group winners Dinamo Zagreb. They are on a four-match unbeaten run in the competition – two wins and two draws – having lost 4-1 away to the Croatian champions on matchday one.
• Fenerbahçe defeated Trnava 2-0 with two Islam Slimani goals on matchday two in what was their first ever UEFA encounter with a Slovakian club.
• Trnava have won both of their previous home games against Turkish opposition, defeating Fenerbahçe’s local rivals Galatasaray (1-0 in the1969/70 European Champion Clubs’ Cup second round) and Beşiktaş (2-1 in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup first round). However, they lost both ties.
• 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’s victory against Anderlecht is the only success in their last five European home fixtures (D1 L3).
• Fenerbahçe finished runners-up in the Turkish league and cup last season, with Galatasaray edging them out in the Süper Lig and unheralded Akhisar shocking them with a 3-2 cup final win. They opened their 2018/19 European campaign with a UEFA Champions League third qualifying round defeat by Benfica (0-1 away, 1-1 home), which sent them directly into the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• This is the Istanbul club’s fifth appearance at this stage of the competition and they have maintained their record of qualifying for the knockout phase on every occasion. They topped a group featuring eventual winners Manchester United in 2016/17, but their most successful campaign was in 2012/13, when they reached the semi-finals.
• Defeated in four of their last six European away fixtures, Fenerbahçe nevertheless have an impressive overall record on the road in the UEFA Europa League group stage, with eight wins in 14 games and just two defeats – albeit both by 4-1 scorelines, against Manchester United at Old Trafford two years ago and in this season’s opener at Dinamo Zagreb.
Links and trivia
• Fenerbahçe defender Martin Škrtel is the captain of Slovakia, for whom Trnava duo Matúš Čonka and Marek Bakoš have also appeared.
• 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.
• 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.
• Having parted company with coach Phillip Cocu on 29 October, Fenerbahçe appointed his assistant, fellow Dutchman Erwin Koeman, in his place on an interim basis. Formerly the right-hand man also to his brother, Ronald, at Southampton and Everton, the 57-year-old has been a head coach in his own right in the past, including stints with Feyenoord (2005–07) and Hungary (2008–10). A left-footed midfielder, he had successful spells with Mechelen and PSV Eindhoven and won EURO ’88 with the Netherlands.