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Two European Champion Clubs' Cup winners will sit on opposite benches as Aston Villa FC and AFC Ajax meet in the opening night of action in UEFA Cup Group F.
• Ajax's Marco van Basten is in his first season as a club coach since ending a four-year spell leading the Netherlands after UEFA EURO 2008™. He won European Cups in successive seasons as a player with Milan in 1989 and 1990 while his Villa counterpart Martin O'Neill was triumphant with Nottingham Forest FC in 1980 after missing out on the club's victory the year before.
• This is Villa and Ajax's first meeting in UEFA club competition.
• This is also Villa's first meeting with a Dutch side, but the Netherlands has an extremely positive resonance with the Birmingham club, who won the European Cup – their only major continental trophy – in Rotterdam in 1982.
• Tony Barton led Villa to a 1-0 win against FC Bayern München at De Kuip Stadium, with Peter Withe scoring the goal that won the European Champion Clubs' Cup for Villa.
• Villa manager O'Neill has fond memories of playing and coaching against Ajax.
• He played for Nottingham Forest FC in both legs of the 1979/80 European Cup semi-final which his side won 2-1 on aggregate en route to a 1-0 final victory against Hamburger SV.
• His Celtic FC side also denied Ajax a UEFA Champions League group stage place in the 2001/02 season, winning 3-1 in Amsterdam and progressing despite a 1-0 defeat at home in the return fixture.
• Villa's Bulgarian midfielder Stilian Petrov was an unused substitute for Celtic in the second leg of that game.
• Ajax, meanwhile, won their first European Cup in England back in 1971, beating Panathinaikos FC 2-0 at the old Wembley Stadium, with Dirk van Dijk and Arie Haan scoring the goals for Rinus Michels' side.
• Ajax have played 16 games against English sides in UEFA club competition in addition to a 3-1 aggregate defeat against Arsenal FC in the non-UEFA affiliated 1969/70 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup semi-final.
• Their record in eight games in England reads won one, drawn four and lost three, with that sole victory coming against Arsenal at Highbury in the quarter-finals of the 1971/72 European Cup. Thus, they have not won a competitive game on English soil in over 36 years.
• In total they have won five, drawn six and lost five of their games against English clubs, but have not beaten an English side in their last six meetings – a run stretching back to 1980.
• Villa finished sixth in the Premier League last season to earn a UEFA Intertoto Cup place. They then beat Denmark's Odense BK to switch from that competition into the UEFA Cup and moved on to the group stage with victories against FH Hafnarfjördur and PFC Litex Lovech.
• Ajax came second in the Eredivisie last season but were denied a UEFA Champions League place in the end-of-season play-offs. They moved into the group stage of the UEFA Cup with a comfortable overall win against FK Borac.
• MŠK Žilina take on Hamburg in Matchday 1's other Group F game. SK Slavia Praha are the only side in the section not in action on 23 October.
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