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Holders Atlético facing tough opener at Aris

Published: Tuesday 31 August 2010, 1.04CET
On paper, UEFA Europa League holders Club Atlético de Madrid could not have asked for a harder start to the defence of their crown with Aris Thessaloniki FC undefeated at home in Europe.
Holders Atlético facing tough opener at Aris
Quique Sánchez Flores' Atlético side have won two European trophies in 2010 ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 31 August 2010, 1.04CET

Holders Atlético facing tough opener at Aris

On paper, UEFA Europa League holders Club Atlético de Madrid could not have asked for a harder start to the defence of their crown with Aris Thessaloniki FC undefeated at home in Europe.

They may have claimed the UEFA Super Cup in recent weeks, but UEFA Europa League holders Club Atlético de Madrid have a big task in their Group B opener as they look to break Aris Thessaloniki FC's long, unbeaten home record.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition.

• Aris's four games against Spanish clubs have ended W1 D1 L2 (W1 D1 L0 at home).

• Atlético have played 11 games against Greek sides, with the record W7 D2 L2 (W1 D2 L2 away). A 3-2 victory against Panathinaikos FC in last season's UEFA Champions League play-off round was their first win on Greek soil.

Match background
• Unbeaten in four games since starting their UEFA Europa League campaign in the third qualifying round, Aris have not lost at home in UEFA club competition. Their record in 21 home fixtures since they made their European debut with a 1-1 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup draw against Chelsea FC on 16 September 1970 reads W11 D10 L0.

• Atlético won their last two European games – the UEFA Europa League final and UEFA Super Cup games respectively. However, barring those matches, they won only two European fixtures on their travels last season, with their record in eight away ties reading W2 D3 L3.

Team facts
• Aris's Argentinian coach Héctor Cúper knows all about Spanish football, with the former international defender having been in charge at RCD Mallorca, Valencia CF – where his side were runners-up in the 2000 and 2001 UEFA Champions League finals – and Real Betis Balompié. He took over at Aris in November 2009.

• Cúper's record in nine European games against Spanish sides – six at FC Internazionale Milano plus Valencia's all-Spanish 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona and the subsequent showpiece versus Real Madrid CF – reads W3 D2 L4 (W2 D2 L0 at home).

• Atlético are led by another former Valencia coach, Quique Sánchez Flores. A Spanish title winner with Real Madrid as a right-back in 1994/95, he also coached Getafe CF and SL Benfica but reached his peak this year, winning the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup.

• Quique Flores' only experience of Greek opposition as a coach came in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group stage when his Valencia side beat Olympiacos FC 4-2 away and 2-0 at home.

• Atlético took on Aris's neighbours PAOK FC in the second round of the 1997/98 UEFA Cup, winning 5-2 in the first leg in Madrid then drawing 4-4 in Thessalonika.

• Aris goalkeeper Juanma, who has yet to play for the Greek club, made 12 league appearances for Atlético from 2002-04.

Last updated: 05/04/11 18.05CET

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