FC Viktoria Plzeň face Slovenian opposition for the first time when they host NK Maribor in their UEFA Champions League play-off first leg hoping to build on some impressive recent results in Europe.
• Both teams are seeking only their second appearance in the group stage but Pavel Vrba's Czech champions will start as favourites given their free-scoring form in qualifying and a run of nine wins in their last ten European outings at the Štruncovy Sady Stadión.
• Plzeň have scored 16 goals in four qualifying matches this summer as they beat Bosnia and Herzegovinia's FK Željezničar 6-4 on aggregate and Estonia's JK Nõmme Kalju 10-2 overall in the two previous rounds.
• Furthermore Plzeň have won all ten of their UEFA Champions League qualifiers, in 2011/12 and this season, scoring 34 goals in the process.
• Plzeň also had a strong campaign in the UEFA Europa League last season, winning a group that included holders Club Atletico de Madrid and then defeating SSC Napoli before a 2-1 aggregate loss to Fenerbahçe SK in the round of 16. Prior to their 1-0 home reverse against Fenerbahçe they had posted seven straight home wins in Europe.
• Maribor reached the play-offs by overcoming Malta's Birkirkara FC 2-0 on aggregate and APOEL FC of Cyprus on away goals after a 1-1 aggregate draw.
• Last season Maribor fell 3-1 on aggregate to a GNK Dinamo Zagreb side then led by Ante Čačić, their current coach, in the UEFA Champions League play-offs. While Čačić went on to oversee Dinamo's first five group stage fixtures, Maribor entered the UEFA Europa League where they finished bottom of a group containing S.S. Lazio, Tottenham Hotspur FC and Panathinaikos FC. They have failed to win any of their last six away games in Europe.
• For Maribor, this is the 11th time they have entered UEFA Champions League qualifying but only once before have they won through to the group stage – in 1999/2000 when they beat KRC Genk and Olympique Lyonnais.
• In their only previous UEFA Champions League play-off in 2011/12, Plzeň beat FC København away (3-1) and home (2-1) to reach the group stage; the home tie was played at the Eden Stadión in Prague.
• While Plzeň have never played Slovenian opposition, Maribor's only past meeting with a Czech side came against AC Sparta Praha in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League play-off. They lost the first leg at home 2-0 and had their fate sealed by a 1-0 reverse in Prague.
• Plzeň goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik appeared for Sparta against Maribor in that aforementioned UEFA Europa League tie. Tavares and substitute Aleš Mertelj lined up against him in the first leg, while that pair and Matic Črnic all played in the second game in Prague.
• Pavel Horváth played for in the Czech Republic's 1-0 home friendly defeat by Slovenia in August 2000. It is a measure of the 38-year-old's remarkable longevity that he scored his first senior hat-trick against Kalju in the third qualifying round.
• Rajtoral František helped the Czech Under-21 side to a 2-0 victory against Slovenia in a February 2007 friendly in Portugal.
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