UEFA Europa League – Zulte Waregem-Lazio – Zulte Waregem v Lazio background
Zulte Waregem can no longer progress from Group K and will conclude their campaign at home to a Lazio side closing in on a competition record.
• The Serie A club have already secured top spot in the section and will seek to extend an unbeaten run in UEFA Europa League group stage football that has lasted over six years.
• Zulte Waregem’s first encounter with Italian opponents ended in defeat as they went down 2-0 to Lazio in Rome on matchday two, Felipe Caicedo and Ciro Immobile getting the goals.
• A pair of 2000/01 UEFA Champions League second group stage meetings with Anderlecht represents Lazio’s only other experience of Belgian opposition: they lost 1-0 in Brussels but won 2-1 at home.
• Zulte Waregem have won just one of their last 11 European home fixtures (D3 L7). They have also conceded five goals in two of the last three, the 5-1 home loss to Nice on matchday one being their heaviest home defeat in UEFA competition.
• Lazio are unbeaten in 27 UEFA Europa League group games (W17 D10) – since a 2-1 reverse at Sporting CP on matchday two in 2011/12 – and have now qualified for the knockout phase in each of their last five participations.
• The Rome club have gone 11 successive away fixtures without defeat in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. Should they make it 12 against Zulte Waregem, they will set a new competition record, overtaking fellow Italian side Fiorentina.
• Zulte Waregem claimed their second Belgian Cup in 2016/17. They made it through the UEFA Cup group stage in 2006/07, but could not emulate that success in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League.
• UEFA Cup runners-up in 1998 and UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup winners the following year, Lazio are back in the UEFA Europa League after a one-season absence, having progressed to the last 16 in 2015/16.
Links and trivia
• The journey from Rome to Waregem is around 1,200km.
• Lazio trio Jordan Lukaku (Anderlecht 2011–13, Oostende 2013–16), Sergej Milinković-Savić (Genk 2014/15) and Adam Marušić (Kortrijk 2014–16, Oostende 2016/17) all have Belgian league experience. Like his older brother Romelu (Manchester United), Lukaku is a Belgian international.
• Milinković-Savić and Zulte Waregem’s Sandy Walsh were team-mates at Genk (2014/15).
• Zulte Waregem have an Italian goalkeeper, Nicola Leali, who played for Brescia (2010–12) and Juventus (2012–16, including loan spells with Lanciano, Spezia, Cesena and Frosinone).
• The Belgian club’s Cypriot winger Grigoris Kastanos is also on loan from Juventus, having played for Pescara in Serie B in 2016/17.
• Zulte Waregem have Kingsley Madu available again.
• Suspended for next match if booked: Luis Felipe (Lazio).
• Francky Dury’s second coming as Zulte Waregem coach began in 2012, and he led them to a second Belgian Cup success last season. Zultse and – post-merger – Zulte Waregem boss from 1994 to 2010, he had spells with Gent and Belgium’s Under-21 side prior to his return.
• Lazio boss since 2016, Simone Inzaghi represented the club as a forward between 1999 and 2010, and stayed on to coach the youth teams. He is the younger brother of fellow ex-Italian international Filippo Inzaghi, the pair having initially played together at home-town outfit Piacenza.