AEK v Benfica facts
Tuesday, September 25, 2018
AEK Athens and Benfica are already playing catch-up in Group E and neither can afford another defeat in Greece.
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Having had their long European unbeaten run emphatically ended on matchday one, AEK Athens will look to make an immediate improvement as a Benfica side who are also seeking their first Group E points come to the Greek capital.
• The Greek champions went down 3-0 at Ajax last time out, their first defeat in 15 European fixtures. Benfica fared little better at home to Bayern München, slipping to a 2-0 reverse, but may be buoyed by the knowledge they have already won in Greece this season.
• Home sides held sway in the clubs' only past meetings, in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League group stage. AEK won 1-0 in Athens on 1 October 2009 – almost nine years to the day before this encounter – before a 2-1 Benfica success in Lisbon.
• That defeat at AEK proved Benfica's only blemish in the section as they went on to finish first with 15 points; AEK, in contrast, were bottom with four points. Benfica eventually lost to Liverpool in the quarter-finals.
• AEK are in the group stage for the fifth time – and the first since 2006/07. Then they were unbeaten at home, picking up seven points in Athens and beating LOSC Lille and eventual champions AC Milan 1-0.
• All four of the Athens club's previous UEFA Champions League group campaigns have ended at that stage.
• 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 made it 14 European games unbeaten for AEK (W4 D10) before the loss at Ajax.
• At home, AEK are unbeaten in seven European matches, since a 2-0 loss against CSKA in last season's UEFA Champions League third qualifying round; their record since is W2 D5.
• AEK have won two of their home games against Portuguese visitors, losing only the first.
• Portuguese Liga runners-up in 2017/18, Benfica are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 14th time – and the ninth season in a row.
• The Lisbon giants have reached seven European Cup finals, winning the trophy in 1961 and 1962.
• Benfica kicked off this season in the third qualifying round with a 2-1 aggregate win against Fenerbahçe (1-0 home, 1-1 away). The first leg ended a run of seven successive European defeats – the Eagles failing to score in six of those, including the last five. Greece's PAOK were then defeated 5-2 over two legs in the play-offs (1-1 home, 4-1 away).
• The PAOK win was Benfica's second consecutive success in Greece, a 2014 victory against the same opponents having ended a run of three successive defeats in Greece, where the Lisbon club's record is now W4 L5.
• The matchday one loss to Bayern means the Eagles have won only three of their last 15 continental fixtures (D3 L9).
• Before this season, Benfica had lost four successive European away games, and were without a win in five. Despite the PAOK victory, they have won only two of their last ten fixtures outside Portugal (D2 L6).
• Benfica finished bottom of their section in 2017/18, losing all six games – the 20th time a club has gone through a UEFA Champions League group stage without picking up a point.
• The Eagles' next UEFA Champions League goal will be their 100th in the competition, group stage to final.
• Benfica's eight successive UEFA Champions League defeats, and six consecutive games without scoring, are both Portuguese records.
Links and trivia
• Odisseas Vlachodimos was coached by current AEK boss Marinos Ouzounidis at Panathinaikos between 2016 and 2018.
• Have played in Greece:
Odisseas Vlachodimos (Panathinaikos 2016–18)
Ljubomir Fejsa (Olympiacos 2011–13)
• Have played in Portugal:
Hélder Lopes (Mirandela 2008/09, Oliveira Douro 2009/10, Espinho 2010/11, Tondela 2011/12, Beira-Mar 2012/13, Paços Ferreira 2013–16)
André Simões (Padroense 2008–11, Santa Clara 2011–13, Moreirense 2013–15)
Rodrigo Galo (Gil Vicente 2008–11 & 2011/12 loan, Braga 2011/12, Académica 2012/13 loan, Paços Ferreira 2014/15)
Alef (Braga 2015/16)
• Rodrigo Galo's only league goal of 2017/18 was scored past Odisseas Vlachodimos in AEK's 3-0 defeat of Panathinaikos on 1 April.
• International team-mates:
Uroš Ćosić & Andrija Živković (Serbia U21)
• Have played together:
Dmytro Chygrynskiy & Facundo Ferreyra (Shakhtar Donetsk 2014–15)
Niklas Hult & Odisseas Vlachodimos (Panathinaikos 2016–17)
Viktor Klonaridis & Odisseas Vlachodimos (Panathinaikos 2016 & 2017)
Erik Móran & Gabriel (Leganés 2017)
Alef & Rafa Silva (Braga 2016)
Uroš Ćosić & Nicolás Castillo (Frosinone 2015)
• 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
• The matchday one defeat at Ajax was AEK's first loss of the season in all competitions, having been unbeaten in their previous seven fixtures (W5 D2). Their previous reverse was a 2-0 defeat by PAOK in May's Greek Cup final.
• AEK's 25-match unbeaten run (W20 D5) in the Greek Superleague was ended by a 2-0 loss at PAOK on 23 September – their previous defeat was a 1-0 home reverse against Atromitos on 23 October 2017.
• AEK therefore lost two games in a row for the first time since going down home and away against CSKA Moskva in UEFA Champions League qualifying at the start of 2017/18.
• The Athens club bounced back with a 3-0 win at OFI Crete on Saturday.
• Hélder Lopes suffered a serious injury to his left knee in the weekend fixture.
• Alef sustained a groin injury in training on 21 September and has not played since.
• Lucas Boyé is yet to make his AEK debut having been sidelined by a hernia problem.
• Summer transfers
In: Gabriel (Leganés), Odisseas Vlachodimos (Panathinaikos), Tyronne Ebuehi (Den Haag)*, Nicolás Castillo (Pumas), Germán Conti (Colón), Facundo Ferreyra (Shakhtar), Cristián Lema (Belgrano), Alfa Semedo (Moreirense), Sébastien Corchia (Sevilla, loan),
Out: Raúl Jiménez (Wolves, loan), Diogo Gonçalves (Nottingham Forest, loan), Eliseu (released), João Carvalho (Nottingham Forest), Martin Chrien (Santa Clara, loan), Paulo Lopes (retired)
• Before losing to Bayern on matchday one, Benfica were on an 11-match unbeaten run in all competitions (W7 D4) stretching back to 28 April.
• Franco Cervi (2023) and Jardel (2021) have both signed contract extensions.
• Having been sidelined by a back problem, Jonas made his first appearance of the season in a 2-0 home win against Aves on 23 September.
• João Félix sprained an ankle in that game, while Alex Grimaldo picked up a foot injury. The former missed Thursday's 2-2 draw at Chaves, though Grimaldo played 90 minutes.
• Jardel will miss the AEK game after suffering a thigh injury against Chaves, while Gabriel has a foot problem.
• Cristian Lema is yet to play for Benfica due to a knee injury, while Facundo Ferreyra, who has not featured since 25 August, is suffering with a back problem. Eduardo Salvio (leg) is also sidelined.
• Sébastien Corchia has been out since 22 August after an operation on a knee injury. Filip Krovinović has been sidelined by a knee injury since January; he is expected to return later this month.
• On 25 September 37-year-old defender Luisão ended his contract by mutual agreement and announced the end of his playing career after 15 seasons at Benfica.