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Partizan poised for Anderlecht test

RSC Anderlecht and FK Partizan have experienced both elation and despair in UEFA Champions League qualifying over the past few years and each are eager to progress this time round.

Partizan's Saša Ilić celebrates scoring
Partizan's Saša Ilić celebrates scoring ©FK Partizan

Having each had a taste of the UEFA Champions League group stage in recent years, FK Partizan and RSC Anderlecht have the chance to earn a repeat visit to the competition proper when they meet in Belgrade in the first leg of their play-off tie.

• Both teams failed to reach the group stage a year ago, Partizan losing to APOEL FC in the third qualifying round, a 1-0 second-leg win at home not enough after a 2-0 defeat in Cyprus. Anderlecht were overwhelmed by Olympique Lyonnais in the play-offs, losing 5-1 in France and 3-1 at home but each have experience of what it takes to emerge from the qualifying competition.

• Partizan made their sole group stage appearance in 2003/04, ousting Newcastle United FC in a penalty shoot-out in the third qualifying round after each side had won 1-0 away from home. In the group stage, the Serbian side collected three points in six outings to finish bottom of Group F, drawing all three home games against eventual winners FC Porto, Real Madrid CF and Olympique de Marseille.

• The Belgrade club have won all four of their games in the competition this season, defeating Armenia's FC Pyunik (3-1 home, 1-0 away) and HJK Helsinki (3-0 home, 2-1 away) in the second and third qualifying rounds respectively.

• Belgian champions Anderlecht played in the initial group stage for six out of seven seasons between 2000 and 2006, although that 2006/07 campaign was the last time they featured in the final 32. Before the Lyon defeat, the Brussels club had lost to Fenerbahçe SK 3-0 on aggregate in the 2007/08 third qualifying round and 4-3 over two legs to FC BATE Borisov of Belarus a round earlier the next season.

• Anderlecht have also successfully negotiated a UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign, progressing from the final round before the group stage in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

• Ariël Jacobs' side eased past The New Saints FC in the third qualifying round this season, winning 3-1 in Wales before a 3-0 home triumph.

Match background
• While these teams have never met, Partizan have plenty of recent experience of Eerste Klasse opposition, losing all three games. That run started with a 1-0 home reverse against R. Standard de Liège in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage, before losses away (0-2) and home (2-4) to Club Brugge KV at the same stage of the UEFA Europa League last season, when Partizan failed to progress to the round of 32.

• Anderlecht have previously faced Serbian opposition, although only in the shape of FK Crvena Zvezda. The Belgian club were 4-2 aggregate victors in the 1981/82 European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-finals, winning each leg 2-1. Each side then recorded 3-2 home wins in the group stage of the 1991/92 competition, Anderlecht's 3-2 victory ending Crvena Zvezda's defence of the trophy although neither side progressed to the final.

Team ties
• Nemanja Rnić spent five years in the Partizan first team before moving to Anderlecht in 2008. The defender scored twice in 80 league appearances for the Belgrade side, winning league titles in 2004 and 2008 and adding the Serbian Cup in the latter campaign.

• Almami Moreira was at Standard between 2001 and 2006, scoring 18 goals in 112 league appearances for the club. Two of those goals came in wins against Anderlecht, in October 2001 and December 2005.

• Anderlecht goalkeeper Silvio Proto made his international debut for Belgium against Serbia in a 2-0 home defeat in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying on 17 November 2004.