NK Maribor welcome FC Viktoria Plzeň to the Stadion Ljudski vrt looking to overturn a 3-1 deficit in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off.
• Both teams are seeking only their second appearance in the group stage but Plzeň hold the upper hand after a first-leg success secured through goals by Marián Čišovský (8), Vladimír Darida (58) and – after Aleš Mejač (66) had replied for Maribor – Michal Ďuriš (89).
• Pavel Vrba's Czech champions have never let a two-goal lead slip in Europe and will arrive in Maribor confident of finishing the job given their free-scoring form in qualifying and a run of six games unbeaten on their travels in UEFA competition.
• Plzeň have scored 19 goals in five qualifying matches this summer, having beaten Bosnia and Herzegovina's FK Željezničar 6-4 on aggregate and Estonia's JK Nõmme Kalju 10-2 overall in the two previous rounds. Including their first-leg triumph, Plzeň have won all 11 of their UEFA Champions League qualifiers in 2011/12 and this season.
• 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. They have yet to concede a home goal in this season's qualifiers.
• Maribor have twice gone into a European home tie with a two-goal first-leg deficit and ended up eliminated on each occasion – against FC Zimbru Chisinau in the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round (0-2 a, 1-0 h) and Olympiacos FC in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup first round (0-2 a, 1-3 h).
• Plzeň had a strong campaign in the UEFA Europa League last season, winning a group that included holders Club Atlético de Madrid and then defeating SSC Napoli en route to the last 16. Including a 3-0 triumph at Napoli they have won four and drawn two of their last six away fixtures in Europe.
• 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 – including a 1-0 reverse at home. 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• As coach of Slovakia's MŠK Žilina, Vrba suffered UEFA Champions League elimination against SK Slavia Praha in the 2007/08 second qualifying round. His side played out two goalless draws with Slavia before losing 4-3 on penalties.
• Plzeň goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik appeared for Sparta against Maribor in that 2009/10 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 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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