APOEL are looking to stop a recent rut of their own in the play-offs as they come up against a Slavia Praha side who have reached the group stage only once in eight attempts.
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Cypriot and Czech champions respectively, APOEL FC and SK Slavia Praha now have their eyes on the UEFA Champions League group stage.
• The teams have never met before in UEFA competition.
• APOEL have played two previous knockout ties against Czech clubs. They lost to Slavia's city rivals AC Sparta Praha in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round (2-2 home, 1-2 away), but got the better of FK Jablonec in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round (1-0 home, 3-1 away).
• The Cypriot side also played Sparta in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League group stage, losing 2-0 away and 3-1 at home.
• Slavia have never encountered opponents from Cyprus in UEFA competition before.
• APOEL have come from the second qualifying round to reach the play-offs, beating Luxembourg's F91 Dudelange 1-0 both away and home, and Romanian club FC Viitorul 4-1 on aggregate (0-1 away, 4-0 home after extra time).
• The Cypriot team are aiming to contest the group stage for the fourth time, having previously qualified in 2009/10, 2011/12 – when they went all the way from second qualifying round to quarter-finals – and 2014/15.
• APOEL lost in the UEFA Champions League play-offs in each of the last two seasons, to FC Astana in 2015/16 and against FC København 12 months ago. Their overall play-off record is W3 L2.
• In 2016/17, APOEL topped their UEFA Europa League group, subsequently beating Athletic Club 4-3 on aggregate in the round of 32 before losing to RSC Anderlecht 1-0 both home and away in the last 16.
• That loss to Anderlecht was APOEL's sole reverse in their last ten European home games (W8).
• Slavia hurdled FC BATE Borisov in the third qualifying round, winning 1-0 at home and going through on away goals after a 2-1 defeat in Belarus.
• This is Slavia's first UEFA Champions League campaign since 2009/10, when they were eliminated in the third qualifying round.
• In 2016/17 – Slavia's first European campaign for seven years – the Czech club started in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, making the play-offs before crashing out 6-0 on aggregate to Anderlecht (0-3 home, 0-3 away).
• Slavia have featured only once in the group stage, in 2007/08. Their seven other UEFA Champions League campaigns ended in the qualifying rounds.
• Their 1-0 home success over BATE in the third qualifying round first leg was Slavia's first UEFA Champions League victory since a 2-1 defeat of FCSB on 19 September 2007 – a run of nine matches without a win (D5 L4).
• They have not won away in Europe since a 1-0 triumphed at AFC Ajax in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round on 15 August 2007 – a sequence of 17 games (D8 L9).
Team and coach links
• Slavia forward Danny faced APOEL during the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage while playing for FC Zenit. The Cypriot team won 2-1 in Nicosia before a 0-0 draw in Russia.
• Jan Sýkora hit a hat-trick for former club FC Slovan Liberec to knock APOEL's domestic rivals AEK Larnaca FC out of last season's UEFA Europa League play-offs.
• Slavia's Halil Altıntop figured as a late substitute and scored for FC Schalke 04 in a 4-1 thrashing of APOEL in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup first round. He played throughout the second leg, a 1-1 draw in Germany.
• A former midfielder with Greece and Panathinaikos FC among others, Giorgos Donis is starting his second spell in charge of APOEL. He won a league and cup double with the club during his first stint, in 2013/14, and then took them into the following season's UEFA Champions League group stage.
• As a player, Jaroslav Šilhavý posted more appearances (465) in the Czech league than anyone else. He made his name as a coach at Slovan Liberec, lifting the Czech title in 2011, being named coach of the year in 2012 and reaching the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League round of 32. He joined Slavia in September 2016 and won the championship in his first term.