FC Zürich coach Bernard Challandes warned that "there is always a risk" but it would represent a mighty upset if the Swiss side were to surrender their 3-0 advantage when they welcome FK Ventspils to Switzerland for their UEFA Champions League play-off decider.
Bernard Challandes, Zürich coach
My role is to insist on the fact that we have not qualified yet even though the press, the fans and people around the team think that we are already in the group phase. In terms of tactics there is no point being too cautious, we have to play our game and follow our principles. We have no reason to change – we are not playing against [FC] Barcelona or Manchester United [FC] . We will go forward and put pressure on them, we are at home and we won't sit back because we are not good at it. The fact that we're playing in St Gallen is not a negative – we hope to be playing in front of a fairly full arena with many of our fans there. Even after a 3-0 away win in the first leg, there is always a risk and we will try to make sure Ventspils do not create a surprise.
Nunzio Zavettieri, Ventspils coach
We hope to do better than in Riga. Qualifying is difficult since we lost 3-0 at home but we will give our best. It is a good experience for us for future games in Europe. To qualify we will have to be very lucky and Zurich will have to be very unlucky. I've asked my players to give their best, to enjoy themselves and play good football. There will be changes but I do not want us to change our mentality. We respect Zurich, I consider them as a team just below the top teams in Europe.
• Zürich ran out comprehensive 3-0 winners in the first leg in Riga, prevailing through goals from Johan Vonlanthen, Silvan Aegerter and Dušan Djurić, and can now scent a first appearance in Europe's élite club competition for 28 years.
• It would represent a massive upset if Ventspils were to turn the tie around. No team has ever fought back from a 3-0 first-leg home defeat in European competition and to underline the scale of Ventspils' task further, Zürich have lost only twice in 49 UEFA club competition home ties by a score that would send the Latvian side through after 90 minutes.
• Zürich suffered a 5-0 humbling at home to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup group stage and a 4-1 loss to R. Antwerp FC in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup first round. They have also suffered two 3-0 defeats down the years – an outcome that would take this contest into extra time.
• Another grim statistic for Ventspils followers is that their side have been eliminated on all three previous occasions where they suffered a first-leg home defeat in Europe – most recently in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round where, as now, they went down 3-0 at home to FC Salzburg and were then crushed 4-0 in the return. Ventspils have never made it through to the UEFA Champions League proper, losing in the second qualifying round in 2007/08 and 2008/09.
How they reached the play-offs
• Ventspils reached the play-off round by ousting Belarussian champions FC BATE Borisov – group-stage participants last season – on away goals following a 2-2 aggregate draw. The Latvian side have won both their home games in this season's competition – beating BATE 1-0 and before that Luxembourg's F91 Dudelange 3-0 en route to a 6-1 aggregate triumph in the second qualifying round.
• A 3-0 win at NK Maribor took Zürich into the play-off round. The Swiss champions had lost their first-leg meeting with their Slovenian counterparts 3-2 on home soil but bounced back with three unanswered goals in Slovenia, courtesy of Dušan Djurić, Xavier Margairaz and Adrian Nikci.
Doubtful: Edgars Gauračs
Suspended: Vitālijs Astafjevs, Saša Cilinšek
Misses next match if booked: Deniss Kačanovs, Jevgenijs Kosmačovs, Pāvels Mihadjuks, Vits Rimkus, Ritvars Rugins, Igor Ţîgîrlaş
Out: Yassine Chikhaoui (knee), Heinz Barmettler (knee), Daniel Stucki
Misses next match if booked: Silvan Aegerter
Last weekend's results
22/08/09 Zürich 4-0 FC Luzern (Swiss Super League)
(Alphonse 60, Hassli 62, Vonlanthen 83, Djurić 90)
Ventspils have not played a competitive game since the first leg
Did you know?
Ventspils players Astafjevs, Kačanovs, Aleksejs Višņakovs and Igors Savčenkovs featured in the Latvia side beaten 2-1 by Switzerland in St Gallen in a FIFA World Cup qualifying tie last October. Andrejs Butriks was an unused substitute. Astafjevs and Rimkus were also in the Latvia team that lost 1-0 to Switzerland in an earlier international meeting between the countries in April 1997.
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