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Olympiacos relishing Chelsea challenge

After progressing beyond the group stage for the first time in nine years Olympiacos CFP are looking to make home advantage count in the first leg with Chelsea FC.

Darko Kovačević was in fine form during the group stage
Darko Kovačević was in fine form during the group stage ©Getty Images

After progressing beyond the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time in nine years, Olympiacos CFP will be looking to make home advantage count as they try to knock out Chelsea FC having never overcome English opponents over two legs.

• In their 100th game in the European Clubs' Cup on Matchday 6, the Greek title-holders qualified for the first knockout round in fitting style, defeating Werder Bremen 3-0 to continue their challenge for Europe's most prized club silverware. The last time they advanced, in 1998/99, their hopes were extinguished in the quarter-finals by Juventus.

• Two goals from Ieroklis Stoltidis set Panagiotis Lemonis' team on their way on Matchday 6 and the midfielder also provided an assist for Darko Kovačević to score the second. The victory meant that Olympiacos' long wait for a home win in the competition – since 6 December 2005 – was at last at an end. In their previous two home fixtures S.S. Lazio and then Real Madrid CF held them to 1-1 and 0-0 draws respectively at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium.

• It was their away form that helped the Piraeus giants finish in a position to give their supporters real pride, level on eleven points with Madrid but taking second place because of the Spanish side's superior head-to-head. Lemonis's team won 3-1 at Bremen and 2-1 at Lazio and in each case Kovačević scored the final goal.

• At this same stage a year ago, Chelsea drew 1-1 away to FC Porto before winning the home leg 2-1 – having been behind in each match – to progress to the quarter-finals and make up for the first knockout round defeat by FC Barcelona 12 months before.

• On both occasions José Mourinho had been in charge but now it is Avram Grant who has accepted the responsibility to try and guide the Londoners to their first UEFA Champions League final. So far the portents look good for Mourinho's successor: Chelsea are unbeaten in their five games in the competition under Grant and have conceded only one goal, their defence unbreached in their last four outings and for a total of 441 minutes in all.

• On their travels Chelsea first won away to Valencia CF and also at Rosenborg BK (4-0) either side of a goalless draw with FC Schalke 04. Joe Cole and Didier Drogba were on target in Valencia and also combined to score three of the goals in Trondheim, Drogba contributing two, with Alex getting the other.

• Despite drawing two home games, Chelsea were comfortable Group B winners with a four-point advantage over Schalke.

• Chelsea have had only one previous meeting with Greek opponents when in the 1970/71 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round they followed a 1-1 away draw with Aris Thessaloniki FC with a 5-1 home win. They have warm memories of Athens, however, beating Real Madrid CF after a replay in the 1971 final of the same competition.

• Olympiacos have not faced an English team since 2004/05 when they met Liverpool FC in the UEFA Champions League group stage and then, having failed to progress, Newcastle United FC in the UEFA Cup Round of 16. In the home games they saw off Liverpool 1-0 but lost to Newcastle 3-1. In the away legs Olympiacos lost 4-0 at Newcastle having earlier gone down 3-1 at Anfield.

• The Piraeus team have welcomed English visitors to the Greek capital on three other occasions since 2000, losing to Manchester United FC in both the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League first group stage and again the following season. In each case United won at home as well as in the Greek capital. Liverpool also had the better of things in the 2000/01 UEFA Cup third round after following up a 2-2 away draw with a 2-0 win at Anfield.

• In the 1965/66 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round Olympiacos drew 2-2 at home with West Ham United FC after losing the away leg 4-0. In the 1972/73 UEFA Cup second round they beat Tottenham Hotspur FC 1-0 at home but had lost 4-0 away.