UEFA Europa League – Real Sociedad-Salzburg – Real Sociedad v Salzburg background
Real Sociedad’s first European campaign for three years has brought them a first appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, where they will take on competition specialists Salzburg.
• The Austrian club are competing in the knockout phase of this competition for the fifth time, having conceded just one goal and remained unbeaten in topping Group I. It was the fourth time they had won a UEFA Europa League group – a competition record.
• The clubs are meeting for the first time in European competition, and Real Sociedad have yet to encounter opposition from Austria.
• Salzburg’s record in 12 games against Spanish teams is W3 D1 L8. Their one away win came in the group stage of the inaugural UEFA Europa League, in 2009/10, when they triumphed 1-0 at Villarreal to complete a perfect record of six wins out of six.
• It was Villarreal who ended Salzburg’s interest in this competition when they last reached the round of 32, winning both legs for a 5-2 aggregate triumph in 2014/15.
• Real Sociedad’s run of 12 successive home wins in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League was brought to an end by Zenit on matchday six, the Russian club’s 3-1 victory in San Sebastian enabling them to finish top of Group L ahead of their hosts.
• The last team before Zenit to have denied La Real victory in front of their own fans in this competition was Sporting CP in the second round of the 1988/89 UEFA Cup (0-0).
• The Basque club were the second highest scorers in this season’s group stage, registering 16 goals. Only Zenit, with 17, outscored them.
• Salzburg came undefeated through a UEFA Europa League group for a record fourth time. They are unbeaten in their last 15 European matches (W9 D6), since a 1-0 defeat at home to Nice on matchday three of last season’s UEFA Europa League.
• The Austrian club have kept clean sheets in each of their last five UEFA Europa League fixtures, equalling the competition record, group stage to final, set by Napoli in 2014/15.
• Salzburg’s concession of just one goal in the group stage equalled another UEFA Europa League record, set by Standard Liège in 2011/12, although the seven goals they scored amounted to the lowest number registered by any of this season’s 12 group winners.
• Although Real Sociedad played in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2003/04 and 2013/14, this is the San Sebastian side’s debut campaign in the UEFA Europa League proper. They qualified directly by finishing sixth in last season’s Spanish Liga.
• Austrian league and cup double winners for the past four seasons, and 1994 UEFA Cup runners-up, Salzburg missed the cut in last year’s UEFA Europa League group stage – after succeeding in their previous three attempts. They have won only one of their four previous round of 32 ties – against Ajax in 2013/14 – and have never gone beyond the last 16 in eight UEFA Europa League participations.
Links and trivia
• Real coach Eusebio Sacristán played twice for Barcelona against Austria Wien in the 1993/94 UEFA Champions League, winning both matches (3-0 home, 2-1 away).
• Real Sociedad had the best disciplinary record in the competition during the group stage, incurring just two yellow cards in the six matches.
• La Real also led the way in the group stage statistics with most goal attempts (104) and most possession (67%), while Asier Illarramendi topped the charts for completed passes with 507 and Sergio Canales headed the assists chart with five – one more than team-mate Xabi Prieto.
• Salzburg won last season’s UEFA Youth League, beating Benfica in the final under Marco Rose – now in charge of the senior side.
• This season Salzburg became the first club to win their UEFA Europa League group on four occasions. Eleven others have achieved the feat three times.
• This is Salzburg’s 53rd UEFA Europa League match, group stage to final; only Spanish clubs Villarreal (60) and Athletic Club (57) have played more.
• Real Sociedad boss since November 2015 when he replaced Scotsman David Moyes, Eusebio Sacristán can complete a full set of major UEFA trophies this season, having won the European Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup as a midfielder with Barcelona, where he played from 1988 to 1995 after earlier spells with Valladolid and Atlético Madrid. He also served at the Camp Nou as assistant coach and B team boss.
• Previously Salzburg’s youth team boss, Marco Rose stepped up to the senior Salzburg helm after predecessor Óscar García left in June, having led the club to victory in the 2016/17 UEFA Youth League. A defender with home-town club Leipzig, Hannover and Mainz, he has been on Salzburg’s coaching staff since 2013.