AZ Alkmaar will look to plot their course to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals as they take on Valencia CF, who took a notable Dutch scalp in the previous round.
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition.
• AZ's record in seven games against Spanish sides is W3 D3 L1 (W1 D2 L0 at home).
• AZ have won their last two games against Spanish sides, but have lost two of their three two-legged encounters with Liga clubs. Encouragingly, their only two-legged success against Spanish opposition came in the quarter-finals of the 2004/05 UEFA Cup, when they won 2-1 at Villarreal CF and then drew the home leg 1-1.
• Valencia have yet to lose a game against a Dutch side with their record in ten games reading W4 D6 L0 (W1 D4 L0 in the Netherlands).
• Valencia eliminated another Dutch side, PSV Eindhoven, in the round of 16.
• Valencia have scored four goals in each of their last two home games against Eredivisie sides.
• A 2-1 loss at Udinese Calcio in the round of 16 decider ended a ten-match European unbeaten run for AZ, comprising five wins and five draws.
• AZ are unbeaten in eight European home games – six wins and two draws – since a 2-1 loss to FC Dynamo Kyiv in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• 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.
• Valencia have won just one of their five away games this season in Europe.
• Valencia are unbeaten in nine UEFA Europa League games since a 1-0 loss at Club Brugge KV in the first leg of the 2009/10 round of 32.
• The Spanish side lifted the UEFA Cup in 2003/04, beating Olympique de Marseille 2-0 in the final in Gothenburg. They last reached the quarter-finals in 2009/10, losing on away goals to eventual winners Club Atlético de Madrid, drawing 2-2 at home and 0-0 away.
• Nine of AZ's 15 goals since the start of the group stage came between the 16th and 45th minutes.
• Goalkeeper Esteban has featured in all 900 minutes of AZ's campaign since the start of the group stage, with five other team-mates – Simon Poulsen, Adam Maher, Rasmus Elm, Jozy Altidore and Roy Beerens – also having played in every game.
• Valencia are the only side left in the competition from the eight that transferred from the UEFA Champions League group stage into the round of 32.
• AZ forward Jozy Altidore played for Villarreal (2008-11) and in November 2008 became the first United States-born player to score in the Spanish league.
• Valencia boast Dutch talent in the form of central defender Hedwiges Maduro, a 2008 signing from AFC Ajax.
• Maduro and AZ forward Roy Beerens won the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship together, while Maduro, Beerens and AZ defender Dirk Marcellis played at the Beijing Olympic Games for the Netherlands.
• 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.
• Verbeek was Foppe de Haan's assistant at Heerenveen when they lost 1-0 at home and drew 1-1 away against Valencia in the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League group stage.
• The son and grandson of famous goalkeepers, Valencia coach Unai Emery had a modest playing career but learned quickly as a coach at Lorca Deportiva CF and UD Almería, with whom he won promotion to the Liga. Valencia chose him to replace Ronald Koeman as coach in 2008.
• Valencia have been coached by two Dutchmen, Guus Hiddink and Ronald Koeman; the latter was also once coach of AZ.
• The winners will take on Club Atlético de Madrid or Hannover 96 in the semi-finals, playing the second leg at home. Whoever prevails in that tie will be the nominal home side in the final in Bucharest's National Arena on 9 May.
• AZ have never played in Bucharest, while Valencia have been to the Romanian capital four times, with the record W1 D1 L2.
• AZ have never met any of their potential semi-final or final opponents.
• Valencia lost out to Atlético on away goals in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.
• Of the sides they could potentially face in the final, Valencia have only met Schalke before in Europe, but have done so on six occasions, with the record W1 D3 L2.
• Valencia could yet face Athletic Club in an all-Spanish final. There was an all-Spanish UEFA Cup final in 2006/07, when Sevilla FC beat RCD Espanyol on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
• An updated version of the UEFA Europa League Statistics Handbook is available here:
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