AZ Alkmaar must be on their guard in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 as they play host to an Udinese Calcio side who set a club record with a 3-0 away win in their last European game.
• The teams are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition.
• AZ have played only one tie against an Italian club, losing out to FC Internazionale Milano in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup second round. They won 1-0 at home but went down 2-0 at San Siro.
• Udinese have played three games against Dutch clubs, with the record W1 D0 L2 (W0 D0 L2 in the Netherlands). They have yet to score a goal on Dutch soil, following a 1-0 defeat by AFC Ajax (1997/98 UEFA Cup second round) and a 2-0 loss at NEC Nijmegen in the 2008/09 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• AZ are on a nine-match unbeaten run in Europe − four victories and five draws.
• The Kaaskoppen (Cheeseheads) are unbeaten in seven European home games – five wins and two draws – since a 2-1 defeat by FC Dynamo Kyiv in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• The Dutch outfit are playing European football in the spring for the first time since 2006/07, when they beat Fenerbahçe SK and Newcastle United FC before bowing out to SV Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
• This is Udinese's third tilt at the round of 16; they lost out to PFC Levski Sofia in 2005/06 but overcame FC Zenit St Petersburg to reach the 2008/09 quarter-finals.
• Udinese's 3-0 win at PAOK FC in the round of 32 ended an eight-game wait for a European away win, a run which featured three draws and five defeats.
• Udinese's 3-0 win at PAOK in their round of 32 decider was their biggest away win in European competition, and matched their most emphatic winning margin in UEFA games – they have won three continental home matches by three goals.
• Eight of AZ's 12 UEFA Europa League goals have come between the 16th and 45th minutes.
• Udinese are the lowest scoring side to have reached this stage, having hit just nine goals in eight games since the start of the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Udinese defender Joel Ekstrand and AZ midfielder Rasmus Elm played together with Sweden as they hosted the 2009 UEFA Under-21 European Championships.
• AZ coach Gertjan Verbeek spent most of his playing career as a defender at sc Heerenveen, barring a season on loan at Heracles Almelo in 1986/87. He has twice coached Heracles (2001-04 and 2009-10) either side of stints in charge of Heerenveen (2004-08) and, briefly, Feyenoord in 2008/09. AZ brought him in at the start of 2010/11.
• Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin spent the bulk of his playing days with Hellas-Verona FC. His coaching career included a stint in France at AS Monaco FC in 2005/06. Since then he has been in charge of US Città di Palermo and Parma FC, taking over for a second spell at Udinese in 2010. He successfully guided Monaco through the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage but missed out with Palermo the following season.
• An updated version of the UEFA Europa League Statistics Handbook is available here:
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