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Holders Club Atlético de Madrid will seek to extend a phenomenal European record on UEFA Europa League matchday three, while FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk chase a third notable scalp.
Atlético, Dnipro and UEFA Champions League regulars Olympique Lyonnais are the only teams who go into their third game with 100% records; a measure of the standard of competition in the UEFA Europa League. Diego Simeone's Atlético have a winnable-looking tie at home to Group B greenhorns A. Académica de Coimbra, especially since they have already broken a European record for most consecutive victories in UEFA competition.
A 1-0 success against FC Viktoria Plzeň on matchday two extended Atlético's winning run to an unprecedented 15 matches in UEFA competition – 14 in the UEFA Europa League plus the 2012 UEFA Super Cup, where they beat Chelsea FC 4-1. Indeed, they have not lost since going down 2-0 at Udinese Calcio on matchday three of last season's UEFA Europa League. They have also prevailed in their last 11 home games in Europe, while Académica have not won a European fixture since 1969.
A more evenly matched contest looks likely when two-time UEFA Cup-winning coach Juande Ramos leads his Dnipro side out against visiting SSC Napoli in Group F. The Ukrainian outfit triumphed at AIK Solna on matchday two, having opened their account with a 2-0 victory against PSV Eindhoven. The Dutch team will reach a major milestone of their own on matchday three – the Boeren's home match against AIK will be their 300th fixture in UEFA competition.
Joint-leading marksmen in this current group stage with seven goals, Liverpool FC's next strike will be their 550th on UEFA duty, while FC Steaua Bucureşti (349), SK Rapid Wien (348) and FK Partizan (299) have their own goalscoring landmarks in sight. Partizan travel to FC Internazionale Milano, who have reason for optimism; in both previous campaigns in which they met the Belgrade side (1963/64 and 1990/91) they went on to lift major European trophies.
Another, more unusual reunion will take place in Group H where FC Rubin Kazan tackle Neftçi PFK. The teams have not met since 1976 when they were playing in the second division of the Soviet system. Quite a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then: Neftçi now have seven Azerbaijani titles to their name, while Rubin – hardly a footballing force in the USSR – have been Russian champions twice.
Matchday three coincides with FARE Action Week, with UEFA backing Europe's biggest anti-discrimination campaign. There are activities before each UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League game, which will be witnessed by thousands of fans in the stadiums and millions on television. Every team will be accompanied onto the pitch by children wearing Unite Against Racism T-shirts and captains will be asked to don a Unite Against Racism armband.
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