On their debut appearance after five failures, SK Slavia Praha will hark back to an earlier UEFA Cup campaign for inspiration against FC Steaua Bucuresti.
On their debut appearance in the UEFA Champions League after five failed attempts to qualify, SK Slavia Praha will hark back to an earlier UEFA Cup campaign for inspiration. In the 1999/00 third round they handed out a heavy defeat to visitors FC Steaua Bucureşti, the Romanian club with whom they renew acquaintance at the start of Group H.
• Eight years ago Slavia won the home leg 4-1, scoring all their goals before the hour mark and it proved ample insurance for the return game which ended 1-1 thanks to Richard Dostálek's equaliser. It was the same player who had opened the scoring in the first game.
• That season the Prague club reached the quarter-finals where they came unstuck against Leeds United AFC, thus failing to match their best performance in Europe which came during the 1995/96 UEFA Cup when they advanced to the semi-finals only to lose 2-0 on aggregate to FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
• Three weeks ago there were celebratory scenes in the Evzena Rošického Stadium as Slavia at last banished the memories of those UEFA Champions League defeats to overcome four-time European champions AFC Ajax 3-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round. In the home leg Stanislav Vlček scored twice to build on David Kalivoda's 74th-minute penalty winner in Amsterdam.
• Karel Jarolím's team will be looking to do better than their city rivals AC Sparta Praha who finished fourth in both the 2004/05 and 2005/06 campaigns. This time Sparta were denied a group-stage berth by Arsenal FC who won 2-0 away and 3-0 at home in the third qualifying round. The draw gives Slavia the chance to regain Czech Republic pride with the Londoners, who are also in Group H.
• Steaua are the only Romanian club to have triumphed in Europe, winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1985/86 by defeating FC Barcelona in a penalty shoot-out and they are the only team from that country who Slavia have faced in European competition. Their opponents also have a two-legged tie with Sparta in their history books, a 1988/89 first-round meeting in the European Cup which brought Steaua a 5-1 away win in Prague, their biggest away win in European club competition. They completed their smooth passage with a 2-2 home draw.
• It is Steaua's second successive participation in the group stage and their fifth in all – they are the only Romanian club to have qualified for the group stage in three successive seasons. However, each time (1994/95, 1995/96, 1996/97 and 2006/07) they failed to qualify for the next round and it was the same last season when they finished third in the group and went into the UEFA Cup where they lost 3-0 on aggregate in the Round of 32 to eventual winners Sevilla FC – the fourth team in Group H.
• In 24 group matches over four campaigns the Bucharest club have only amassed four wins. They gave themselves a real boost 12 months ago with a 4-1 away win over FC Dynamo Kyiv on Matchday 1 but it was to prove their only victory with three-goal defeats at home by Real Madrid CF and Olympique Lyonnais damaging any hopes they had of advancing to the next stage.