Maribor v Sporting background

NK Maribor play host to Sporting Clube de Portugal as their first UEFA Champions League group stage campaign for 15 years starts with a home fixture in Group G.

Maribor players celebrate after their play-off triumph at Celtic
Maribor players celebrate after their play-off triumph at Celtic ©Getty Images

NK Maribor's first participation in the UEFA Champions League group stage for 15 years starts with a home fixture against Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Match background

Maribor
• In the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League group stage, Maribor drew 1-1 at home to SC Braga before going down 5-1 in Portugal.

• Jasmin Handanovič, Tavares, Agim Ibraimi, Dejan Trajkovski, Arghus, Aleš Mertelj, Željko Filipović and Aleksander Rajčevič all played in those games.

• Tavares scored a 75th-minute winner at Celtic FC to secure Maribor's play-off victory and place in the competition proper. The home game had ended 1-1, Damjan Bohar on target.

• Bohar had also scored in a 1-0 home win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in the third qualifying round. Maribor's passage was sealed with a 2-2 draw in Larnaca, Ibraimi twice on target.

• An Ibraimi penalty and Dare Vršič's free-kick gave the Slovenian side a 2-0 home win over HŠK Zrinjski after a 0-0 draw away in the second qualifying round. 

• In their previous group stage appearance, Maribor finished in fourth place with four points, winning 1-0 away against FC Dynamo Kyiv and drawing 0-0 away to Bayer 04 Leverkusen. They lost all three home matches.

• The Violets were eliminated in the UEFA Champions League play-offs in 2012/13 (by GNK Dinamo Zagreb) and 2013/14 (by FC Viktoria Plzeň).

Sporting
• Sporting – for whom coach Marco Silva, appointed in May, will be making his UEFA Champions League bow – are in the group stage for the first time since 2008/09 when they reached the round of 16, also for the first time.

• They suffered their heaviest home (5-0) and away (7-1) defeats in European competition losing that last-16 tie to FC Bayern München.

• This is Sporting's sixth group stage campaign; they have lost their last two opening-day fixtures in the competition.

• The Portuguese Liga runners-up have not won any of their last ten away matches in European competition (all in the UEFA Europa League), losing seven and drawing three.

Player links
• Islam Slimani's Algeria beat Aleš Mertelj's Slovenia 2-0 in a friendly in Blidan in March 2014.

• Agim Ibraimi's Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia faced Nani's Portugal in a friendly in May 2012, which finished goalless. 

• Luka Zahovič was born in the Portuguese city of Guimaraes, where his father, Zlatko, was playing. Now Maribor's sporting director, Zlatko had spells at Vitória SC, FC Porto and SL Benfica in Portugal. He played 15 times against Sporting, scoring three goals and recording four wins, five draws and six losses.

Match facts

Maribor

• Guimaraes-born Luka Zahovič struck twice on Saturday in a 2-0 victory at home to NK Krka to take the 18-year-old's tally to five goals in as many games this season.

• Both of Maribor's defeats this campaign have been in the top flight and by a two-goal margin – it took until their 11th league game of 2013/14 for the Purples to lose as many times.

• The Slovenian title holders are 11 matches unbeaten at home since a 2-0 loss to NK Rudar Velenje on 23 April.

• Dare Vršič scored twice in Maribor's 4-1 Slovenian Super Cup victory against ND Gorica on 13 August.

Sporting

• Jefferson was sent off in added time on Saturday as Sporting were held to a 1-1 draw at home to CF Os Belenenses.

• William Carvalho was sent off as Sporting opened their Liga campaign with a 1-1 draw against A. Académica de Coimbra on 16 August.

• A week later, Nani missed a penalty against FC Arouca on his second Sporting debut before Carlos Mané scored the only goal of the game in added time.

• Islam Slimani's equaliser in the 1-1 draw at SL Benfica on 31 August was Sporting's first league goal at the home of their Lisbon rivals since 29 April 2007.

• Sporting won ten of their 15 league games away from home last season, losing only twice.

• Mané's first goal at U21 level helped Portugal to a 2-1 win against Norway on 4 September.

• Cédric has not played since suffering a back injury against Académica on 16 August

• Carvalho, 22, was named Sporting's player of the year and best young player at an event on 2 July to celebrate the club's 108th anniversary.

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