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Aragonés begins fresh assault on Europe

After guiding Spain to European glory in the summer, Luis Aragonés now turns his sights to the continent's leading club prize as his Fenerbahçe SK side start their Group G campaign at FC Porto.

New Fenerbahçe coach Luis Aragonés is no stranger to success
New Fenerbahçe coach Luis Aragonés is no stranger to success ©Getty Images

After guiding Spain to the UEFA EURO 2008™ title in June, Luis Aragonés now turns his sights to Europe's leading club prize as his Fenerbahçe SK side start their Group G campaign with a visit to FC Porto.

• Two-time European champions Porto represent a testing first assignment for Aragonés, who has never faced Portuguese opposition in more than four decades of continental competition, either as player or coach. Yet the Spaniard, embarking on his first European Champion Clubs' Cup campaign since 1978, will not be the only one in the Fenerbahçe camp with cause for confidence.

• Under Aragonés's predecessor Zico, the Istanbul club reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals for the first time last term and a handful of their players – notably three-goal striker Semih Şentürk – subsequently helped lead Turkey's push to the semi-finals of UEFA EURO 2008™, where they lost out narrowly to Germany.

• This is the sixth consecutive group-stage campaign for Porto and only once in the past five seasons have they failed to progress to the knockout phase.

• Last term, they finished at the top of a section containing eventual semi-finalists Liverpool FC, with a record of three wins, two draws and one defeat. However, they then exited the competition in the last 16, beaten 4-1 on penalties by FC Schalke 04 at the Estádio do Dragão after the teams had traded 1-0 home victories.

• Fenerbahçe are entering the group stage for the fourth time in five seasons and they do so on the back of the most successful European campaign in their history.

• After overcoming RSC Anderlecht in the third qualifying round, the Istanbul club finished second in their group with a record of three wins, two draws and one defeat. They defeated Sevilla FC 3-2 on penalties in the first knockout round after respective 3-2 home wins had tied the sides at 5-5 on aggregate. However, after a 2-1 victory over Chelsea FC in the home leg of their quarter-final, their hopes of further progress died with a 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.

• Porto have lost just one of their last 20 home ties in the competition, winning ten of them. It is a statistic that may make worrying reading for Fenerbahçe, who have lost six and drawn two of their last eight UEFA Champions League away fixtures.

• While Jesualdo Ferreira's Porto entered the 2008/09 group stage automatically as champions of Portugal, Fenerbahçe had to negotiate two qualifying rounds after finishing second in last season's Süper Lig.

• Aragonés's men began with a convincing 7-0 aggregate success against Hungarian title holders MTK Budapest. Roberto Carlos (15) and Selçuk Şahin (58) earned them a 2-0 first-leg victory in Istanbul, before Semih Şentürk (5, 61, 79, 81) stole the show in the return with four of Fenerbahçe's efforts in a 5-0 win. Emre Belözoğlu added the other from the penalty spot with 66 minutes gone.

• FK Partizan proved more awkward opponents in the third qualifying round and raced into a 2-0 lead in the first leg in Belgrade through Veljko Paunović (10) and Miloš Bogunović (14). However, Fenerbahçe restored parity on the night via Alex's 45th-minute spot-kick and Spaniard Daniel Güiza's (50) first goal for the club, and they prevailed 2-1 in the return, where Semih Şentürk (28) and Alex (58) both found the net before a late Zoran Tošić (76) strike ensured a nervy finish.

• This is only the third occasion that Porto have faced Turkish opposition. They overcame Denizlispor 8-3 on aggregate in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup fourth round and recorded home and away victories against Beşiktaş JK in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage, winning 1-0 in Istanbul, then 2-0 on home soil.

• Fenerbahçe suffered their heaviest defeat in European competition on their first visit to Portugal, when they went down 7-0 to SL Benfica in the first round of the 1975/76 European Cup.

• They had a happier time on their second visit to Portugal, however, completing a 3-2 win at Vitória SC to secure a 6-2 aggregate success in the 1990/91 UEFA Cup first round.

• Porto midfielder Raul Meireles came off the bench to score Portugal's second goal in their 2-0 win over Turkey in the teams' opening game in Geneva at UEFA EURO 2008™. On the losing side were Fenerbahçe's Volkan Demirel, Emre, Mehmet Aurelio – now at Real Betis Balompié – Kazım Kazım and Semih Şentürk.

• At 70, Aragonés is the oldest coach in this season's UEFA Champions League and is leading a team in the competition for the first time in 30 years. Back in 1977/78, he took Club Atlético de Madrid to the quarter-finals before they succumbed 4-3 on aggregate to Club Brugge KV.

• The Fenerbahçe coach was seconds away from winning the European Champion Clubs' Cup for Atlético in the 1974 final against FC Bayern München. The Spanish club were leading through Aragonés's extra-time strike when a last-gasp equaliser by Georg Schwarzenbeck forced a 1-1 draw and Bayern won the replay 4-0.

• Fenerbahçe full-back Roberto Carlos faced Porto seven times during his time with Real Madrid CF and finished on the losing side only once – tasting victory on five occasions.

• The other encounter in Group G sees FC Dynamo Kyiv entertain Arsenal FC.