Having gone nine games without defeat at home in this competition, Udinese Calcio welcome AZ Alkmaar, hoping to make a return to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals after a three-year absence.
• Jozy Altidore set up Maarten Martens (63) and Erik Falkenburg (84) as AZ won the first leg 2-0 in Alkmaar, with Samir Handanovič keeping his side in the tie with two late saves.
• The teams have been paired for the first time in UEFA club competition.
• AZ have played only one previous tie against an Italian club, losing out to FC Internazionale Milano in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup second round, winning 1-0 at home but going down 2-0 at San Siro.
• Udinese have now played four games against Dutch clubs, with the record W1 D0 L3 (W1 D0 L0 at home – W0 D0 L3 in the Netherlands). They have yet to score a goal on Dutch soil, and need to improve on their only previous home result against a Dutch side – a 2-1 win against AFC Ajax – if they are to make it to the last eight.
• AZ are on a ten-match unbeaten run in Europe − five victories and five draws.
• Udinese are unbeaten in nine home games in this competition – six wins and three draws – since a 2-0 loss against Borussia Dortmund in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup first round.
• AZ's 1-0 win at RSC Anderlecht in the round of 32 ended a 15-game wait for a European away win (seven draws, eight defeats) since beating FC Paços de Ferreira 1-0 in the UEFA Cup first round on 20 September 2007.
• The Kaaskoppen (Cheeseheads) 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.
• Eight of AZ's 14 UEFA Europa League goals have come between the 16th and 45th minutes of the first half.
• Udinese are the lowest scoring side to have reached this stage, having hit just nine goals in nine games since the start of the UEFA Europa League group stage - and average of one per game.
• Udinese's Brazilian defender Neuton turns 22 on the eve of this game.
• AZ midfielder Rasmus Elm turns 24 on Saturday 17 March.
• Udinese defender Joel Ekstrand and AZ midfielder Rasmus Elm played together with Sweden as they hosted the 2009 UEFA Under-21 European Championships.
• 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.
• 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.
• An updated version of the UEFA Europa League Statistics Handbook is available here:
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