Olympiacos stand in Sheriff's path

FC Sheriff welcome Olympiacos FC to Tiraspol dreaming of becoming Moldova's first UEFA Champions League group-stage representatives, but the Greek titleholders will surely have other ideas.

Benjamin Balima (left) will be hoping to impress against Olympiacos
Benjamin Balima (left) will be hoping to impress against Olympiacos ©Serghei Socolov

FC Sheriff welcome Olympiacos FC to Tiraspol for the clubs' first ever meeting with their sights set on making a small piece of history by becoming the first Moldovan team to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Match background

• There is sure to be a surprise element to this tie with neither side having previously encountered a team from their opponents' country. Sheriff have already gone further than ever before by reaching this final hurdle in qualifying but blocking their path are an Olympiacos side determined to make amends for missing out on the group stage last season.

• Olympiacos suffered a surprise loss to Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta FC in the 2008/09 third qualifying round, then the last step before the competition proper. If the Greek titleholders need reminding of that defeat, they do not have to look far, as their new coach Temuri Ketsbaia was in charge of Anorthosis at the time.

• Prior to that loss, Olympiacos had competed in the UEFA Champions League group stage for eleven consecutive seasons and they advanced to the last 16 in the 2007/08 edition before losing to Chelsea FC.

• Sheriff fell in the second qualifying round for eight years running before this season, when the change in the qualifying format meant they entered the competition at that same stage.

• Leonid Kuchuk's men beat FC International Turku 2-0 on aggregate in the second qualifying round, Alexandru Suvorov scoring from the penalty spot in both legs. They then secured their passage to the play-off round by defeating SK Slavia Praha on away goals following a 1-1 aggregate draw. José Nadson scored the decisive equaliser in Prague three minutes into added time to send the Moldovan champions through.

• Olympiacos entered the competition in the third qualifying round, where they recorded 2-0 victories both at home and away against ŠK Slovan Bratislava.

Team ties

• As a player, Olympiacos coach Ketsbaia once scored a winning goal in Moldova for his national team. Ketsbaia fired the only effort of the match as Georgia won a FIFA World Cup qualifier there in September 1997. He figured in two other internationals against Moldova as well: a 2-0 home win in that same World Cup qualifying competition and a 3-2 away defeat in EURO '96™ qualifying in 1995.

• Olympiacos goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis twice featured for Greece against Moldova in UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying, appearing in the 1-0 success in Chisinau in September 2006 and the 2-1 victory in Heraklion in June 2007. His Olympiacos colleague Vassilis Torosidis appeared for Greece in the first fixture while Sheriff midfielder Andrei Corneencov was in Moldova's team for the second.