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Barcelona pedigree poses problem for Panathinaikos

They have qualified for the knockout rounds in all of their last eight UEFA Champions League campaigns and FC Barcelona will represent a formidable first test for Panathinaikos FC.

Barcelona pedigree poses problem for Panathinaikos
Barcelona pedigree poses problem for Panathinaikos ©UEFA.com

Having been denied the chance to become the first UEFA Champions League winners to retain the trophy by FC Internazionale Milano in last season's semi-finals, FC Barcelona set out on another quest for continental glory with a home game in Group D against Panathinaikos FC.

• The Spanish side have won their group in each of the last three seasons and qualified for the knockout rounds eight times in the last nine campaigns, the sole exception being 2003/04 when they were not involved in the competition.

• Panathinaikos are back at Europe's top table after an absence of one season. Their best achievement came in 2001/02 when they reached the quarter-finals only to lose to Barcelona.

Previous meetings
• Barça have won two of the four previous competitive matches between the teams, both at home. Their 5-0 victory in the 2005/06 group stage equalled the Greek side's worst away defeat in the UEFA Champions League, Lionel Messi among the scorers.

• When the sides met in the 2001/02 quarter-final the home side won each leg, the Athens game ending 1-0 to Panathinaikos with the Blaugrana winning the return 3-1.

• Barcelona have won all five home games against Greek opponents and have a habit of scoring a healthy number of goals, winning 5-0 against AEK Athens FC in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup fourth round – with coach Josep Guardiola in the team – and 6-1 against PAOK FC in the 1975/76 UEFA Cup first round.

• Of 11 games in Spain, Panathinaikos have lost ten and managed just one draw. That came against Villarreal CF in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League round of 16.

Match background
• Barcelona won five out of six home games last season before their semi-final defeat, a 1-0 home win against Inter insufficient to overturn a 3-1 first-leg deficit.

• They also faced the Nerazzurri in the opening group fixture 12 months ago, a game which ended goalless in San Siro. That ended a run of nine successive Matchday 1 victories for the Catalan club dating back to 1999/2000. The last time they lost their first UEFA Champions League fixture of the season was in 1997/98 when they went down 3-2 at Newcastle United FC. They have won nine and drawn two of the subsequent 11 opening games.

• Two years ago Panathinaikos began with two defeats but then picked up a draw and three successive victories to win the group ahead of Inter and qualify for the knockout rounds for the first time in seven years.

• Their run came to an end in the round of 16 when they could not capitalise on a 1-1 draw at Villarreal, losing 2-1 at home. That draw in Spain means Panathinaikos have avoided defeat in their last three away games in the competition, a run that includes two wins.

Team ties
• Luis García started his career at La Masia, Barcelona's famous academy, along with Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and Víctor Valdés. All five were members of the Barcelona team in 2003/04 before García joined Liverpool FC.

• García (2007-09) and Giourkas Seitaridis (2006-09) both had spells at Club Atlético de Madrid, García spending last season at Real Racing Club. Panathinaikos central defender Josu Sarriegi spent his entire career in Spain with Deportivo Alavés (2000-06) and Athletic Club (2006/07), joining Panathinaikos in summer 2007.

• Sebastián Leto and Javier Mascherano were team-mates at Liverpool in 2007/08 while Sidney Govou and Éric Abidal played together at Olympique Lyonnais between 2004 and 2007.

• Gilberto Silva and Daniel Alves are international team-mates with Brazil while Djibril Cissé, Govou and Jean-Alain Boumsong play for France with Abidal. Cédric Kanté and Seydou Keita play together for Mali.

• Kostas Katsouranis scored against Spain in Greece's 3-2 friendly defeat in Thessaloniki on 22 August 2007.

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