FC Steaua Bucureşti will look to overturn a two-goal deficit against fellow former European champions meet AFC Ajax in their UEFA Europa League round of 32 decider in the Romanian capital.
• Goals from defenders Toby Alderweireld (28) and Ricardo van Rhijn (48) set Ajax on the right path and to make matters worse for Steaua, Mihai Doru Pintilii was sent off in the closing stages.
• The sides met for the first time in UEFA club competition last week.
• Steaua's 13 games against Dutch clubs have ended W3 D3 L7 (W2 D1 L3 in Bucharest – W1 D2 L4 in the Netherlands).
• Ajax's only prior experience of Romanian opposition came in the 2009/10 UEFA Cup group stage, where they drew 0-0 at home and won 2-1 away against FC Timişoara.
• Steaua won their first three European home games this season without conceding before losing 5-1 to VfB Stuttgart in their most recent UEFA Europa League fixture in Bucharest.
• Ajax failed to secure a victory in three UEFA Champions League away games in the autumn, but have lost just once in their last eight UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League away ties, recording five victories in that run – including a 2-1 victory at Manchester United FC in last season’s round of 32.
• Steaua have lost their last six games in the round of 32 without scoring, four of those matches being against Dutch opposition.
• Ajax finished third in UEFA Champions League Group D in the autumn. They are appearing in the round of 32 for the fifth season in succession: they have progressed and been eliminated in alternate years since making it through to the round of 16 in 2008/09. If that pattern continues, they will go through this time.
• Winners of UEFA Europa League Group E, Steaua have made it to the round of 32 for the fifth time since the advent of the UEFA Cup group stage in 2004/05. They got to the round of 16 that season and achieved a tournament best by getting to the 2005/06 semi-finals, but bowed out at this stage in 2006/07 and 2011/12.
• The final is being played at Ajax's home stadium, the Amsterdam ArenA, on 15 May. The last team to play in a UEFA Cup final at their home stadium was Sporting Clube de Portugal, who lost 3-1 to PFC CSKA Moskva. However, the last Dutch side to win the UEFA Cup did so at their own stadium, Feyenoord beating Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in Rotterdam in 2001/02.
• An Ajax side featuring current coach Frank de Boer won their only UEFA Cup in 1991/92, beating Torino FC on away goals.
• Ajax striker Davy Klaassen turns 20 on the day of the game.
• Ajax's next goal will be their 550th in UEFA club competition; this is their 326th UEFA game.
• The clubs have a former player in common: right-back George Ogăraru left Steaua for Ajax in 2006, and spent four seasons with the Amsterdam club – one of them back on loan with Steaua.
• A right-sided midfielder, Laurenţiu Reghecampf was capped once by Romania and played for Steaua from 1996 to 2000, before finishing his career in Germany with FC Energie Cottbus, Alemannia Aachen and 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Since taking up coaching in 2009, he has had eight jobs; he has been in charge of FC Snagov three times, FC Universitatea Craiova twice and CF Gloria 1922 Bistriţa and FC Concordia Chiajna once each, taking command at Steaua last summer.
• Ajax coach De Boer won five Dutch titles, that 1992 UEFA Cup and the 1994/95 UEFA Champions League with the club, then captured a Spanish title with Barcelona. Capped 112 times, the defender has won two titles with the Amsterdam club as a coach and – in what may be a good omen – he will celebrate his 43rd birthday on the day of the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League final.
Round of 16: Ajax/Steaua v AC Sparta Praha/Chelsea FC
• The first legs will be played on 7 March, with the returns the following Thursday.
• Both Ajax and Steaua have played Sparta in the past.
• Steaua came out on top when they met Sparta in the first round of the 1988/89 European Champion Clubs' Cup, winning 5-1 in Prague before playing out a 2-2 draw in Bucharest. Steaua went on to reach the final, losing out to AC Milan.
• Ajax have taken on Sparta in three previous games. In the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League group stage, the sides drew 1-1 in Prague with Ajax prevailing 2-1 in Amsterdam, while a 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage meeting ended goalless.
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