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Schalke face Stevens reunion as PAOK visit

FC Schalke 04 welcome back former coach Huub Stevens when he brings his new club, PAOK FC, to Gelsenkirchen for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off tie.

Huub Stevens sits with Christian Fuchs ahead of his final UEFA Champions League match as Schalke coach last year
Huub Stevens sits with Christian Fuchs ahead of his final UEFA Champions League match as Schalke coach last year ©AFP/Getty Images

FC Schalke 04 welcome a familiar face back to Gelsenkirchen when they host PAOK FC in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off tie.

• PAOK's new coach, Huub Stevens, will need no introduction given his two spells managing the Gelsenkirchen club, the first of which yielded the 1997 UEFA Cup as well as German Cup triumphs in 2001 and 2002. Stevens' second stint ended only last December and his local knowledge will be vital to the visitors, who have not played a game in Germany for 30 years.

• PAOK are in the play-off following UEFA's decision to disqualify FC Metalist Kharkiv from its club competitions for 2013/14. Metalist had beaten PAOK 3-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.

Match background
• Fourth in Germany last season, Schalke are looking to secure their sixth participation in the UEFA Champions League group stage. This is only their second experience of the qualifying rounds, however, the first coming in 2008/09 when they lost 4-1 on aggregate to Club Atlético de Madrid.

• The 2013 Greek Super League runners-up, PAOK are hoping it will be third time lucky after they lost third qualifying round matches to AFC Ajax in 2010/11 (4-4 agg; away goals) and Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in 2004/05 (0-4 agg).

• PAOK also suffered defeat in last season's UEFA Europa League play-off round, going down 4-2 on aggregate to SK Rapid Wien.

• Schalke won just one of four home fixtures in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League and saw their campaign ended in the round of 16 by a 3-2 loss to Galatasaray AŞ in Gelsenkirchen.

• It was against Greek opposition that Schalke, with Stevens at the helm, posted that solitary home victory in Europe last season, Christian Fuchs' goal securing a 1-0 success against Olympiacos FC. Two months earlier they had beaten Olympiacos 2-1 in Piraeus with Benedikt Höwedes and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring.

• Schalke's only other meeting with a team from Greece came in the 2001/02 first group stage when they suffered 2-0 home and away losses to Panathinaikos FC.

• This is only PAOK's third visit to Germany, the most recent coming in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup second round against FC Bayern München. After a 0-0 home draw, Pál Csernai's PAOK side earned a second stalemate in Munich but ended up losing the tie 9-8 on penalties.

• PAOK suffered a similar fate against Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1981/82 European Cup Winners' Cup first round, losing 2-0 in Germany and going out on penalties after winning the return by the same score.

Team ties
• Stevens' first spell in charge of Schalke ran from 1996-2002. The month before he took over he was coach of the Roda JC side beaten 5-2 on aggregate by the Royal Blues in the UEFA Cup first round, the trophy he would end the season holding aloft after Schalke's final shoot-out win over FC Internazionale Milano.

• Stevens returned to Schalke in September 2011 and led the club to a third-place Bundesliga finish in 2012 before his dismissal last December. The Dutchman has also coached Hertha BSC Berlin (2002-2003), 1. FC Köln (2004/05) and Hamburger SV (2007-2008) in Germany.

• As a VfB Stuttgart player, Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt faced Panathinaikos in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League group stage, winning 2-0 at home and 3-1 away.

• Kyriakos Papadopoulos played for Olympiacos from 2007 until 2010. Aged 15 years and 283 days, he became the youngest player to appear in the Greek league against Atromitos FC on 2 December 2007 but never played against PAOK, the club his family supports.

• Fuchs scored in Austria's 2-1 friendly defeat in November 2010 by a Greece side including Kostas Katsouranis, Dimitris Salpingidis and Giorgos Georgiadis.

• Katsouranis and Salpingidis played alongside Papadopoulos in the Greece team that lost 4-2 to Germany in the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-finals. Salpingidis scored a late penalty for Greece, while Höwedes sat on the bench for Germany.

• Chinedu Obasi was a second-half substitute for Nigeria in their 2-1 loss to Greece at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Salpingidis hit the opening goal while Tziolis and Katsouranis also played.

• The only Schalke player to have faced PAOK in the past is goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand, who featured in Stuttgart's 2-1 win in Thessaloniki in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage.

• Alexandros Tziolis spent the second half of 2008/09 on loan at SV Werder Bremen and appeared in a 1-0 defeat at Schalke, Höwedes scoring.