Udinese Calcio kick-off their fourth UEFA Europa League group stage campaign against an FC Anji Makhachkala side with serious European pedigree within their ranks.
• The sides are meeting for the first time and this is also Anji's first encounter against Italian opponents.
• Udinese have played three previous games against Russian teams, winning 2-1 at FC Spartak Moskva in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage before eliminating FC Zenit St Petersburg 2-1 on aggregate in the round of 16.
• Their only previous home game against Russian opponents was a 2-0 win against Zenit in which Fabio Quagliarella (85) and current captain Antonio di Natale (88 pen) scored.
• Anji's Samuel Eto'o had more shots on goal than any other player in qualifying (12), scoring five times.
• Udinese are in the group stage following a loss on penalties to SC Braga in the UEFA Champions League play-off, following two 1-1 draws.
• Udinese are unbeaten in their last six European home games, though three of their last four UEFA encounters at the Stadio Friuli have ended in draws.
• This is the start of Udinese's fourth UEFA Europa League group stage campaign, and they have reached the knockout stage in their previous three attempts. Anji, meanwhile, are making a first appearance in a UEFA group stage in what is only their second season in European competition.
• Anji have yet to lose an away game in Europe, scoring 11 and conceding none in their three previous games on the road – all of them this season. They did not concede in six qualifying games in 2012/13, scoring 15 times at the other end.
• They have only lost once in Europe, letting in their only goal to date in UEFA competition as they were beaten 1-0 by Rangers FC in the first round of the 2001/02 UEFA Cup. They were the nominal home team on that occasion, but the tie was played as a one-legged affair on neutral territory in Warsaw due to security concerns in Chechnya, which neighbours Anji's native Dagestan.
• Anji captain Eto'o knows Italy well, having played for FC Internazionale Milano from 2009-11. He played in four Serie A games against Udinese, scoring once as his side recorded three wins and (most recently) a 3-1 away defeat.
• Anji will play their group stage home games at Moscow's Stadion Lokomotiv this season – Udinese beat Spartak 2-1 at the Stadion Luzhniki in their only previous trip to the Russian capital.
• Anji coach Guus Hiddink achieved little of note as a midfielder, but as a coach has racked up six domestic titles and five domestic cups with his various clubs. The Dutchman has also led the Netherlands, South Korea, Australia, Russia and Turkey at international level and won the 1987/88 European Cup with PSV Eindhoven. He took charge at Anji in February 2012.
• Hiddink's record against Italian sides in ten games as a club coach reads W3 D1 L6, with all four of his previous meetings with Serie A opponents in this competition ending in defeats during his spells with Fenerbahçe SK and Valencia CF.
• Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin was once an Italy Under-21 midfielder, and has played for – and coached – a large number of Italian clubs. He took charge of Udinese for a second time in 2010, matching a club-best third-placed finish in Serie A in 2011/12. He briefly coached outside Italy with AS Monaco FC in 2005/06.
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