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FC Zürich welcome play-off rivals FK Ventspils to Switzerland with one foot already in the UEFA Champions League group stage following their 3-0 first-leg triumph.
• Bernard Challandes' side ran out comprehensive winners in the first leg in Riga, prevailing through goals from Johan Vonlanthen, Silvan Aegerter and Dušan Djurić, and they can now scent a first appearance in Europe's élite club competition for 28 years.
• While Zurich have never faced a team from Latvia before the first leg, Ventspils emerged 3-1 aggregate winners against FC Lugano in their one previous two-legged contest against Swiss opposition in a 2002/03 UEFA Cup qualifying tie.
• It would represent a massive upset if Nunzio Zavettieri's Ventspils team 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 against 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 statistics for Ventspils followers is that they 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.
• Zürich lost their last European home tie 3-2 to NK Maribor in the previous qualifying round – but then triumphed 3-0 away.
• They were semi-finalists in the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1963/64 and 1976/77 but their last appearance in the competition came in 1981/82 – long before the UEFA Champions League era began.
• The Swiss club fell in the qualifying rounds in 2006/07 and 2007/08.
• Ventspils have never made it through to the UEFA Champions League proper, losing in the second qualifying round in 2007/08 and 2008/09.
• The Latvian titleholders reached the play-off round under former coach Roman Grygorchuk, ousting Belarussian champions FC BATE Borisov – group-stage participants last season – on away goals following a 2-2 aggregate draw. They had previously defeated Luxembourg's F91 Dudelange 6-1 on aggregate in the second qualifying round.
• Forwards Vits Rimkus and Andrejs Butriks are the only two players now at the club who contested the 3-0 win against Lugano in the first leg in Latvia on 15 August 2002. Rimkus scored his side's second goal of that game, his strike sandwiched between a double strike from Evgeni Landyrev. Ventspils lost the return leg 1-0 in Switzerland two weeks later.
• Ventspils players Vitālijs Astafjevs, Deniss 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. Butriks was an unused substitute.
• Astafjevs and Rimkus were 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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