NK Maribor will look to become the first Slovenian club to avoid defeat against Russian opponents when they take on FC Rubin Kazan in their first UEFA Europa League Group D game.
• The teams are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition; indeed, for both it will be a first encounter with clubs from their opponents' countries.
• The Russian side has come out on top in the three meetings between sides representing these two nations at club level in UEFA competition. NK Celje lost 2-1 at home to FC Lokomotiv Nizhni Novgorod in the 1997 UEFA Intertoto Cup group stage; NK Primorje went down 3-0 away and 3-1 at home to FC Zenit in the second round of the same competition in 2001.
• Maribor have not won in four European games. They made it through this season's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round on away goals following two draws against APOEL FC, before losing home and away to FC Viktoria Plzeň in the play-offs.
• Maribor have reached the group stage of a major UEFA competition for the fourth time, but have yet to make it through to the knockout rounds. They failed to record a victory when they made their UEFA Europa League group stage debut in 2011/12, but improved on that with a four-point haul last season.
• Rubin are on a seven-game European winning streak, having won the second leg of their 2012/13 UEFA Europa League quarter-final against Chelsea FC 3-2 and all six of their games since entering this season's competition in the second qualifying round.
• Rubin have competed in a UEFA group stage in the last four seasons; they transferred from the UEFA Champions League to the UEFA Europa League round of 32 at the end of the autumn in 2009 and 2010 and then made it through the UEFA Europa League group stage in the last two seasons.
• Double winners in Slovenia last season, Maribor are one of nine domestic champions competing in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage along with FC Sheriff (Moldova), Maccabi Tel-Aviv (Israel), PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria), Legia Warszawa (Poland), FC Shakhter Karagandy (Kazakhstan), APOEL FC (Cyprus), GNK Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) and IF Elfsborg (Sweden).
• Croatian coach Ante Čačić took up only the second foreign posting of his career when he took over at Maribor in June 2013. One of the first coaches in Croatia to receive a UEFA Pro Licence, he led an array of local clubs and spent three years as assistant to Ilija Lončarević when he was Libya coach in the mid-2000s, then guided GNK Dinamo Zagreb to a domestic double during a spell as the club's coach from 2011 to 2012.
• Now one of the longest serving coaches in Europe, Kurban Berdyev has been in charge of Rubin since 2001, leading the club into the top division for the first time and winning the 2008 and 2009 titles before transforming his team into regular European contenders. Rubin right-back Roman Sharonov said of the famously ascetic Turkmenistan-born coach: "If I thought about football as much as him, I would probably lose my mind."
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