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Spirits soaring following their 1-1 Matchday 1 draw at Hertha BSC Berlin, FK Ventspils will take next take on SC Heerenveen in their first home fixture in UEFA Europa League Group D. The Dutch side travel to Latvia looking to bounce back after a 3-2 home loss to Sporting Clube de Portugal.
• Ventspils and Heerenveen are meeting for the first time, but the Dutch side have been to Latvia before, losing 3-2 at SK Liepājas Metalurgs in the first leg of a 2001 UEFA Intertoto Cup second-round tie. They won the return fixture 6-1.
• Latvian champions Ventspils are the first Virsliga side to make it to the group stage of a UEFA club competition. Heerenveen played in four UEFA Cup group stage competitions, qualifying for the round of 32 on their first two attempts (2004/05 and 2005/06) but missing out in the more recent editions (2006/07 and 2008/09). They lost all four of their games in last season's campaign.
• A 3-0 defeat by FC Zürich in the UEFA Champions League play-offs ended a run of four straight European home wins for Ventspils.
• Heerenveen have not won in their last six European away fixtures. Their last success on the road was a 3-0 victory against Vitória FC in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup first round (14/09/06).
• Founded by the merger of FK Venta and FK Nafta in 1997, Ventspils made a surprise change of coach after they reached the UEFA Champions League play-offs. Italian Nunzio Zavattieri – a former AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano youth coach and one-time assistant at Udinese Calcio – took over from Ukrainian Roman Grygorchuk, who had led them to three consecutive Virsliga titles.
• Heerenveen won their maiden Dutch Cup last term but Norwegian coach Trond Sollied became the first Eredivisie dismissal of the season in August following a poor start to their domestic campaign. He has been replaced by former youth-team trainer Jan de Jonge, with the former FC Groningen, Heerenveen and FC Emmen striker to remain in charge until the winter break, when his position will be reviewed.
• He is receiving advice from former Netherlands Under-21 coach Foppe de Haan. De Jonge worked as De Haan's assistant at Heerenveen from 2001-04. De Haan worked for the club as assistant coach (1985-92) and then coach (1992-04) for almost 20 years – a record in Dutch professional football.
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