Two former European champions go head to head for only the third time in UEFA competition as Feyenoord welcome Olympique de Marseille to Rotterdam.
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Two former European champions go head to head for only the third time in UEFA competition as Feyenoord welcome Olympique de Marseille to Rotterdam for the first leg of their UEFA Europa Conference League semi-final.
• Feyenoord finished six points ahead of Slavia Praha in the autumn to top Group E undefeated and qualify directly for the round of 16, where they added two more victories in comfortably disposing of Partizan 8-3 on aggregate (5-2 a, 3-1 h). They re-encountered the Czech champions in the quarter-final and defeated them 6-4 on aggregate (3-3 h, 3-1 a), striker Cyriel Dessers taking his competition tally to eight goals with a double in the second-leg win in Prague.
• Marseille came third in UEFA Europa League Group E, behind Galatasaray and Lazio, winning only their final fixture, at home to Lokomotiv Moskva, before sailing through their UEFA Europa Conference League knockout round play-off against Qarabağ (3-1 h, 3-0 a) and also claiming home and away wins against both Basel in the round of 16 (2-1 h, 2-1 a) and PAOK in the quarter-finals (2-1 h, 1-0 a), with Dimitri Payet on target in both games against the Greek Cup holders.
• The clubs have been paired just once previously, in the second group stage of the 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League, when Feyenoord got the better of Marseille, winning 3-0 at home and drawing 0-0 away, though neither team made it through to the quarter-finals.
• Feyenoord have faced French opposition only twice since then, losing 3-0 away to Nancy in the UEFA Cup group stage in both 2006/07 and 2008/09. The victory over Marseille is their only one in three Rotterdam encounters with French sides, the previous two having both been drawn – 1-1 against Reims to complete a 2-1 aggregate win in the quarter-final of the 1962/63 European Cup, and 2-2 against Monaco to lose their 1991/92 European Cup Winners' Cup semi-final on away goals after a 1-1 first-leg draw.
• Marseille's record against Dutch clubs in UEFA competition is W7 D2 L6. In the Netherlands it is W3 D1 L3, their biggest win having come on their most recent visit – 3-0 at Groningen on Matchday 1 of the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League. Their all-time record in two-legged knockout ties against Dutch sides is W2 L2, with victories in the two most recent – both in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup, when they overcame Twente on penalties in the round of 32 (0-1 h, 1-0 a) before eliminating Ajax, who had twice eliminated OM in previous ties, after extra time in the round of 16 (2-1 h, 2-2 a).
• Fifth in the Dutch Eredivisie last season, 29 points in arrears of champions Ajax, Feyenoord secured their fifth European group stage appearance in six seasons by coming through three UEFA Europa Conference League qualifying rounds under new head coach Arne Slot at the expense of Drita, Luzern and Elfsborg.
• The Rotterdam club had failed to make further progress in four successive European group stage participations until this season, most recently finishing third in their UEFA Europa League section last term, but they had no such difficulties in UEFA Europa Conference League Group E, taking four points off both Slavia (2-1 h, 2-2 a) and Maccabi Haifa (0-0 a, 2-1 h) and all six off Union Berlin (3-1 h, 2-1 a) before putting 14 goals past Partizan and Slavia in the knockout phase.
• This is Feyenoord's first European semi-final since they lifted the UEFA Cup for the second time 20 years ago. They defeated Italian giants Inter 3-2 on aggregate (1-0 a, 2-2 h) that season to make their overall record in UEFA semi-finals W3 L4 and end a run of three successive defeats.
• Although Feyenoord were beaten in Rotterdam by both Wolfsberg (1-4) and Dinamo Zagreb (0-2) in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage, those are their only two defeats in their last 17 European home games (W11 D4). They have won seven out of eight this season in the UEFA Europa Conference League, the exception the quarter-final 3-3 draw against Slavia, scoring 24 goals.
• Fifth in last season's Ligue 1, which they completed under current coach Jorge Sampaoli, who arrived in February, Marseille returned to the UEFA Europa League for a fifth appearance in the group stage – a record for a French club – after finishing fourth in their UEFA Champions League section last season behind Manchester City, Porto and Olympiacos.
• OM suffered their third UEFA Europa League group stage failure this term, drawing all of their first four fixtures, including twice against Lazio (0-0 a, 2-2 h), before surrendering any chance of further progress when they lost 4-2 at Galatasaray on Matchday 5. A closing 1-0 home win against Lokomotiv confirmed their third-placed finish on seven points – five more than the Russian side – before they eased through their three UEFA Europa Conference League ties against Qarabağ, Basel and PAOK, winning all six matches.
• Marseille have previously appeared in six European semi-finals, losing the first two and winning the last four, the most recent after extra time against Salzburg in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League (2-0 h, 1-2 a). There were no semi-finals in the inaugural UEFA Champions League of 1992/93, when they lifted their only major European trophy with a 1-0 final victory against AC Milan.
• Marseille ended a run of 11 European away games without a win (D3 L8) with their 3-0 victory at Qarabağ in February – their first on the road since beating Athletic Club 2-1 in Bilbao in the second leg of the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League round of 16. The subsequent wins in Basel and Salonika have made it four victories in OM's last six European away matches during the spring (L2) and nine successive aggregate victories, including qualifying ties, in two-legged UEFA contests.
Links and trivia
• Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda's next appearance in UEFA club competition will be his 100th.
• Marseille striker Arkadiusz Milik has made 49 appearances in UEFA club competition, scoring 24 goals.
• Milik played from 2014 to 2016 with Feyenoord's traditional domestic rivals Ajax. The Polish striker scored 32 Eredivisie goals for the Amsterdam club but none against Feyenoord.
• Feyenoord's Orkun Kökçü and Marseille's Cengiz Ünder are both current Turkish internationals.
• Philippe Sandler joined Feyenoord in February after spending the first half of this season on loan at French Ligue 1 club Troyes.
• Dessers is the joint leading scorer in the UEFA Europa Conference League, his eight goals putting him level with Tammy Abraham of Roma.
• Feyenoord, who won the European Cup in 1969/70, and Marseille, the inaugural UEFA Champions League winners, are the only two former European champions competing in this season's semi-finals of both the UEFA Europa Conference League and the UEFA Europa League. There are just two more in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League – Real Madrid and Liverpool.
• Feyenoord scored an added-time winner to beat Utrecht 2-1 at home in the Eredivisie on Sunday – their third successive win in all competitions – and remain third in the table. Later that day Marseille won 1-0 at Reims in Ligue 1 – the tenth victory in their last 11 games in all competitions – to remain six points clear in second place behind Paris Saint-Germain, who were crowned champions on Saturday.