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Maribor hope to reverse tide against Dinamo

NK Maribor are bidding to overturn a 2-1 deficit against play-off rivals GNK Dinamo and pull off a first successful comeback in UEFA club competition since 1995.

Dinamo's Jerko Leko is challenged by Maribor's Aleš Mejač in the first leg in Zagreb
Dinamo's Jerko Leko is challenged by Maribor's Aleš Mejač in the first leg in Zagreb ©AFP/Getty Images

NK Maribor have it all to do as they welcome GNK Dinamo for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off.

• Maribor trail 2-1 from the first game in Zagreb, and although the deficit is just one goal, the size of their task is underlined by the fact they have not recovered from a first-leg loss in Europe since 1995.

• Dinamo's Milan Badelj had a night to remember when the teams met on 22 August as he scored the own goal (39) that cancelled out Duje Čop's opening effort (10) for Dinamo but then made amends with the 74th-minute winner. Badelj will make his final appearance for the club in this second leg before joining Hamburger SV.

Previous meetings
• Dinamo's 2-1 first-leg home success was a repeat of the scoreline when they last hosted Maribor in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. Then, Andre Mijatović (59) and Dino Drpić (63) struck to overturn Stipe Balajič's tenth-minute strike and secure a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

• The preceding 1-1 draw in Maribor featured an opening goal by Dinamo's Niko Kranjčar (33) and an equaliser three minutes later from Damir Pekič.

• The full lineups for that encounter at the Ljudski vrt Stadium on 30 July 2003 were:
Maribor: Kuzma, Vuksanovič, Filekovič, Pitamič, Karič, Golob (Mostarlić 60), Balajić, Teinović, Čeh, Franci, Pekič.
Dinamo: Jozić, Mijatović, Sedloski, Drpić, Mikić (Cesar 46), Tomić, Agić, Mujčin, Kranjčar, Bartolović (Eduardo 44), Mitu (Zahora 88).

Match background
• Maribor are bidding to return to the group stage after a 13-year absence and can take confidence from their home form to date in this season's qualifying phase, with successive 4-1 victories posted against FK Željezničar and F91 Dudelange.

• Maribor's history of comebacks after first-leg defeats is less encouraging. They have lost their last eight knockout ties in UEFA club competition in which they entered the second leg with a deficit – most recently in last season's third qualifying round when they fell 2-1 at Maccabi Haifa FC and could only draw the return 1-1.

• The last time Maribor turned a tie around was back in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup preliminary round when, after going down 1-0 at Skonto FC, they prevailed 2-0 on home soil.

• Dinamo, by contrast, have not surrendered a first-leg advantage since losing 2-0 at FC Spartak Moskva in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup qualifying round – a result that undid their 3-1 home win. Since then, they have progressed on 18 separate occasions.

• Dinamo have won all five previous two-legged contests with Slovenian rivals – including beating an NK Primorje side led by Darko Milanič, now Maribor coach, in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup second qualifying round. They triumphed 4-0 at home to set up a 4-2 aggregate victory.

• The Zagreb club subsequently posted UEFA Champions League qualifying wins against NK Domžale (2007/08 and 2008/09) and FC Koper (2010/11).

• Dinamo are seeking a swift return to the UEFA Champions League after last season's group stage participation – their third after previous appearances in 1998/99 and 1999/2000.

• Maribor's only previous group stage appearance was in 1999/2000 and was secured by a 3-0 aggregate victory against Olympique Lyonnais in qualifying. Ante Šimundža and Balajić – the Croatian whose No19 shirt was retired by the club after his eight years' service – hit the goals in the 2-0 second-leg home success.

Team ties
• As a player, Maribor coach Milanič suffered a 3-0 defeat at Dinamo with SK Sturm Graz in the 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League first group stage. Milanič also appeared for Slovenia in a 3-1 home loss to Croatia in 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

• Jerko Leko and substitute Nikola Pokrivač played in Croatia's 3-2 friendly success against Slovenia in Maribor in August 2008.

• Sammir has scored in Dinamo's past three knockout wins against Slovenian sides – the 5-1 home success over Koper in 2010, the 3-0 victory at Domžale in 2008, and the 3-1 home defeat of the same opponents a year earlier.