AEK Athens have not featured in the group stage since 2006/07, and return at an Ajax side back for the first time in four years.
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Ajax and AEK Athens have endured a period of absence from the UEFA Champions League group stage, and both will be keen to make their presence felt from the outset in Group E.
• Both clubs came through qualifying to reach this stage – three rounds in Ajax's case, two for AEK. Ajax are taking part for the first time in four seasons whereas AEK have not featured in the group stage since 2006/07 and were twice eliminated in qualifying, including last season, before making their return this year.
• The sides' only past fixtures came in the group stage of Ajax's victorious 1994/95 UEFA Champions League campaign. The Dutch side won both fixtures, recording a 2-1 away victory in September 1994 and a 2-0 win in Amsterdam in December.
• Edwin van der Sar and Marc Overmars – now Ajax's general director and director of player affairs respectively – played in both games. Danny Blind, father of Daley, was the Ajax captain for both matches.
• Second in the Eredivisie last season, Ajax are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 14th time, but the first since 2014/15. Then their campaign ended in the group stage, for the fifth year in a row; they have not progressed from their section since 2005/06.
• Ajax's 2017/18 European campaign lasted only two ties, losing to Nice in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round before a 4-2 aggregate defeat against Rosenborg (0-1 home, 2-3 away) that extended their winless run in continental competition to six matches (D2 L4).
• However, Ajax are unbeaten in Europe in 2018/19, beating Sturm Graz home (2-0) and away (3-1) in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round and Standard Liège 5-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round (2-2 away, 3-0 home) before overcoming Dynamo Kyiv 3-1 in the play-offs (3-1 home, 0-0 away).
• The Amsterdammers have lost only one of their last six home fixtures in the UEFA Champions League group stage (W3 D2).
• Ajax's sole defeat at home to Greek clubs (W4 D3) marked a little piece of UEFA Champions League history as they went down 1-0 against Panathinaikos in the 1995/96 semi-final first leg. However, a 3-0 second-leg victory in Athens marked the first time a side had won a knockout phase tie after losing the first game at home; it has still only happened twice. Current AEK coach Marinos Ouzounidis played in the first leg for Panathinaikos, and was an unused substitute in the second.
• AEK are in the group stage for the fifth time – and the first since 2006/07.
• All four of the Athens club's previous UEFA Champions League group campaigns have ended at that stage.
• AEK have lost all four European matches in the Netherlands, all without scoring; they conceded ten goals in that run.
• Greek champions for the 12th time in 2017/18 – their first championship success since 1994 – AEK entered this season's UEFA Champions League in the third qualifying round, where they defeated Celtic 3-2 on aggregate (1-1 away, 2-1 home) to reach the play-offs. There they overcame Hungarian club Vidi 3-2 over two games (2-1 away, 1-1 home).
• The home win against Celtic ended AEK's run of eight successive draws in European competition.
• Last season AEK lost to CSKA Moskva in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round and moved into the UEFA Europa League, where they were ultimately eliminated by Dynamo Kyiv in the round of 32 despite avoiding defeat in all ten of their matches in the competition (W2 D8).
• This season's qualifying successes have made it 14 European games unbeaten for AEK (W4 D10).
Links and trivia
• Ajax striker Kaj Sierhuis was born in Athens on 27 April 1998. His father Cock Sierhuis was AEK chairman for two years before the family returned to the Netherlands in 2001.
• Ajax striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has scored against Olympiacos, Asteras Tripolis and PAOK in UEFA competition for Schalke.
• Ajax reserve goalkeeper Kostas Lamprou played with AEK pair Petros Mantalos and Michalis Bakakis at youth level for Greece. Lamprou was born in Athens, moving to Ajax aged 13.
• Summer transfers
In: Hassane Bandé (Mechelen), Daley Blind (Manchester United), Dušan Tadić (Southampton), Zakaria Labyad (Utrecht)
Out: Justin Kluivert (Roma), Mitchell Dijks (Bologna), Nick Viergever (PSV Eindhoven), Siem de Jong (Sydney FC, loan), Mateo Cassierra (Groningen, loan)
• Ajax are on a 14-match unbeaten run (W11 D3) in all competitions stretching back to 15 April.
• The Amsterdam club have won their last four Eredivisie matches, summer signing Dušan Tadić scoring in all of them – most recently Saturday's 3-0 defeat of Groningen. The Serbian international was also on target against Standard Liège and Dynamo Kyiv in UEFA Champions League qualifying.
• Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has scored twice in each of Ajax's last two league matches.
• Frenkie de Jong made his Netherlands debut in a 2-1 friendly win against Peru on 6 September.
• Ajax's new signing Hassane Bandé is expected to be out until the winter break after suffering a calf injury in a friendly against Anderlecht in early July. Joël Veltman has not played since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury on 19 April.
• Summer transfers
In: Marko Livaja (Las Palmas), Christos Albanis (Apollon Smyrni)*, Stratos Svarnas (unattached), Ezequiel Ponce (Roma, loan), Lucas Boyé (Torino, loan), Marios Oikonomou (Bologna, loan), Serafim Giannikoglou (free transfer)*, Alef (Braga, loan), Giannis Gianniotas (Olympiacos)
Out: Ognjen Vranješ (Anderlecht), Jakob Johansson (Rennes), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Olympiacos), Dimitris Melikiotis (Volos), Tasos Pantos (Sparta), Andreas Vlachomitros (Sparta, loan), Giannis Papadopoulos (AO Chania Kissamikos), Masoud Shojaei (Tractor Sazi), Adam Tzanetopoulos (Apollon Smyrni), Giannis Anestis (Hapoel Beer Sheva), Stavros Vasilantonopoulos (PAS Lamia, loan), Pedro Vitor (Aris)
*Not in UEFA Champions League squad
• AEK are seven games unbeaten this season in all competitions (W5 D2). They have not lost since a 2-0 defeat by PAOK in May's Greek Cup final and beat Panionios 4-0 on Saturday to make it three Superleague wins out of three.
• Marko Livaja made his international debut in Croatia's 1-1 friendly draw with Portugal on 6 September.
• Lucas Boyé is yet to make his AEK debut having been sidelined by a groin problem; he is expected to return in late September.