Sturm Graz host Sporting Lisbon this Thursday at the Merkur Arena in the first game of the Europa League Group stages. Group D is home to Sturm Graz and Sporting Lisbon along with Atalanta and Raków Częstochowa.
Sturm Graz currently sit second in the Austrian Bundesliga with five wins and two draws in seven games. In terms of current form, Sturm Graz have three wins and two draws in their last five games. Gregory Wuthrich scored the only goal in the 1 - 0 win over Austria Lustenau and Szymon Wlodarczyk with a double, an own goal from Stefan Haudum and a penalty from Manprit Sakariagave Sturm Graz teh 4 - 1 win. Otar Kiteishvili and Mohammed Fuseini both scored in the 2 - 1 win over ten man Altach. The two draws came against Austria Klagenfurt and RB Salzburg, Sturm Graz played a goalless draw against Klagenfurt despite David Schanegg getting sent off and Kiteishvili and Sakaria scored in the 2 - 2 draw with Salzburg.
In their journey to the Europa League, Sturm Graz played in the Champions League qualifying in the Third round. Here Sturm Graz faced PSV, where despite Jon Gorenc Stankovic scoring, Isaac Babadi and Ibrahim Sangare scored along with a double from Luuk de Jong to grab a 4 - 1 win in the first leg. In the second leg William Boving scored for Sturm Graz but Joey Verrman, de Jong and Ricardo Pepe scored to give PSV the 3 - 1 win and a 7 - 2 win on aggregate, sending Sturm Graz to the Europa League.
Lisbon currently sit top of the Primeira Liga with four wins and one draw in their five games. This includes a 3 - 2 win over Vizela, a 2 - 1 win over Casa Pia and a 1 - 0 win over Famalicao. The draw came in a 1 - 1 meeting with Braga and most recently Sporting picked up a 3 - 0 win over ten man Moreirense.
Sporting Lisbon qualified for the Europa League this season with their fourth place finish in the Primeira Liga which gave them automatic entrance into the Group stage. Last year Sporting competed in the Champions League but finished third in their group of Tottenham, Eintracht Frankfurt and Marseille. In the Round of 32, Sporting met Midtjylland where goals from Sebastian Coates, Pedro Goncalves, an own goal from Stefan Gartenmann gave Sporting a 5 - 1 win on aggregate. In the Round of 16, Sporting drew Arsenal. Goncalo Inacio and Paulinho scored in the 2 - 2 draw in the first leg and Goncalves scored in the 1 - 1 draw in the second leg, but a miss from Gabriel Martinelli gave Sporting the 5 - 3 win. However, Sporting’s run came to an end against Juventus as the Italian side won 2 - 1 on aggregate.
Sturm Graz and Sporting Lisbon have never met professionally, but have vastly different histories in European football. In the Europa League, Sturm Graz have competed five times, but have never progressed past the Group stage, the same for their three appearances in the Champions League. Sporting, on the other hand, have had 11 seasons in the Europa League with an appearance in the Semi-finals and ten appearances in the Champions League.