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Inter to measure Neftçi strength

Published: Wednesday 26 September 2012, 18.17CET
FC Internazionale Milano will put Neftçi PFK's proud home record under close scrutiny when they become the first Italian club to visit Baku in UEFA Europa League Group H.
Inter to measure Neftçi strength
Inter are making a first-ever trip to Azerbaijan ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 26 September 2012, 18.17CET

Inter to measure Neftçi strength

FC Internazionale Milano will put Neftçi PFK's proud home record under close scrutiny when they become the first Italian club to visit Baku in UEFA Europa League Group H.

Neftçi PFK will look to protect an impressive home record in UEFA competitions as FC Internazionale Milano become the first Italian club to visit Baku in Group H.

Previous meetings
• This is Neftçi and Inter's first encounter. Indeed, this is the first time that clubs from Azerbaijan and Italy have met in any UEFA competition.

• The only previous form the teams have to go by is the two games Azerbaijan played against Italy in UEFA EURO 2004 qualifying – the Azzurri won 2-0 at the Tofig Bahramov Republican Stadium in Baku and 4-0 in the return fixture in Reggio Calabria.

• Under-21 and under-age sides from Azerbaijan and Italy have met in nine previous UEFA games. The first – between U16 sides – ended in a 0-0 draw in 1997, but Italy have won all eight of the subsequent meetings, and it took until the most recent of those – a 2-1 win for Italy's U19s in October 2011 – for the Azeri sides to register their first goal.

• Both of the Italy outfits who visited the Tofig Bahramov Republican Stadium – the seniors in 2002 and the U21s in 2008 – left with 2-0 wins.

Match background
• Neftçi are unbeaten in four European games, though two of those ended in draws.

• The Azeri side are also unbeaten in 14 European home games (nine wins and five draws) since a 3-2 loss against FK Crvena Zvezda in the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup qualifying round.

• Inter have drawn their last two European games 2-2 at home, but have won both of their continental away fixtures this season, scoring five goals and conceding none.

• Neftçi are the first Azerbaijani side to make it to the group stage of a UEFA club competition. With seven league titles, they are the most successful club in Azerbaijan since independence, and set a Soviet-era high-water mark for the republic by finishing third in the USSR's top division in 1966.

• Inter are competing in their maiden UEFA Europa League group stage campaign.

Team facts
• Inter are within two goals of their 500th in UEFA club competition. With 338 games to their name, they stand in eighth place in the all-time UEFA appearances list, but with 498 goals, they are 11th in the scorers' rankings.

• Boyukagha Hajiyev is the coach of Neftçi. A coach and player at now-defunct MFK Araz-Naxçivan, he spent several years coaching in Iran and was Vagif Sadygov's assistant with the national team in 2005. Having won a first national title in what was initially a caretaker spell at FK Bakı in 2005/06, Hajiyev won the crown again in 2011/12, his first season at Neftçi.

• Inter's coach is Andrea Stramaccioni, who stepped in on a caretaker basis to replace Claudio Ranieri in March 2012 and was then handed a contract for the 2012/13 campaign. A defender whose career was cut short by a serious injury at Bologna FC, he specialised in coaching youth teams, taking charge of the AS Roma and then Inter junior selections before getting the senior job.

Last updated: 28/09/12 14.43CET

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