Chelsea v Maribor background

In a group featuring three draws in its first four fixtures, Chelsea FC have carved out a two-point advantage at the top and will be looking to extend that at home to NK Maribor.

Nemanja Matić has been key to Chelsea's good start in Group G
Nemanja Matić has been key to Chelsea's good start in Group G ©AFP/Getty Images

Chelsea FC have the opportunity to extend their lead at the top of Group G when they entertain an NK Maribor side who travel to England for the fourth successive season.

Match background

Chelsea
• Chelsea are facing a side from Slovenia for the first time in European competition.

• They won at Sporting Clube de Portugal on matchday two, Nemanja Matić making a goalscoring return to Lisbon, to go two points clear at the head of the section. On matchday one, the 2012 champions drew 1-1 at home to FC Schalke 04.

• Competing in their 13th group stage campaign and 12th in a row, the London side have won their section in eight of their last 11 campaigns, qualifying as runners-up in two other years.

• José Mourinho lifted the UEFA Champions League with FC Porto (2004) and FC Internazionale Milano (2010) and is bidding to become the first head coach to win the European Cup with three different teams.

Maribor
• A year ago, Maribor lost 3-1 at Wigan Athletic FC in the UEFA Europa League group stage. Their 2-1 home win was their first victory in six matches against English sides: their record is W1 D1 L4 (W0 D0 L3 in England).

• It was also the first win by a Slovenian club against English opposition in nine UEFA club competition meetings (W1 D2 L6).

• Maribor rescued a 1-1 draw against Sporting in their first Group G match, through substitute Luka Zahovič's added-time header, and then led in Gelsenkirchen through Damjan Bohar before Schalke equalised.

• That goal continued Bohar's impressive run in this season's competition; he also scored in the 1-1 draw at home to Celtic FC in the play-off round. Tavares' 75th-minute winner in Glasgow secured Maribor's place in the competition proper for the first time in 15 years.

• Bohar had previously scored in the 1-0 home victory over Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in the third qualifying round, Maribor then drawing 2-2 in Larnaca. The Slovenian side were 2-0 home winners against HŠK Zrinjski after a 0-0 draw away in the second qualifying round.

• In their previous group stage appearance 15 years ago, Maribor finished in fourth place with four points, winning 1-0 away against FC Dynamo Kyiv and drawing 0-0 at Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

• Maribor have lost just one of their last seven European away games.

Coach and player links
• Agim Ibraimi scored FYR Macedonia's goal in a 5-1 defeat against Cesc Fàbregas's Spain in a UEFA EURO 2016 qualifier in Valencia on 8 September 2014. César Azpilicueta was on the bench for the home team.

• Eden Hazard scored in Belgium's 2-0 win over Ibraimi's FYR Macedonia in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Skopje on 22 March 2013. Thibaut Courtois also played for the away team.

• Four days later, Hazard scored the only goal when the sides met in Brussels. Ibraimi and Courtois were also involved.

• Ibraimi scored in FYR Macedonia's 1-0 win against Serbia in Skopje on 16 October 2012 in a FIFA World Cup qualifier. Branislav Ivanović came off the bench in the second half for the visitors; Matić was also a substitute. 

Match facts

Chelsea
• The Blues are 11 matches unbeaten in 2014/15, winning nine. They have not lost since April's UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg defeat at home to Club Atlético de Madrid.

• John Terry captained Chelsea for the 500th time on Saturday, skippering the Blues to a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace FC. Mourinho's team played 50 minutes with ten men following the dismissal of César Azpilicueta.

• Fàbregas doubled the visitors' lead with his first league goal for the club. Diego Costa sat out the match with a hamstring problem.

• Costa has scored in six of his seven league outings following his summer switch from Atlético, nine goals in all.

• Costa scored his first international goal at the seventh time of asking as Spain responded to their 2-1 loss in Slovakia with a 4-0 victory over Luxembourg on 12 October. Mohamed Salah (Egypt 2-0 Botswana, 10 October) and Loïc Rémy (Armenia 0-3 France, 14 October) were also on target.

• Having started the defeat by Poland three days earlier, André Schürrle left the Germany camp with illness ahead of their draw against the Republic of Ireland on 14 October and consequently was not involved on Saturday.

• Chelsea are five points better off in the Premier League than they were at this stage last season.

• Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0 on 5 October, leaving Arsène Wenger 12 games without a win against Mourinho.

• The Blues are the last remaining unbeaten side in the Premier League and the division's top scorers, their 23 goals coming at almost three per game.

Maribor
• Ibraimi is a booking away from a suspension after picking up yellow cards on matchdays one and two.

• Two own goals from Aleksander Rajčevič condemned Maribor to their first defeat in nine games in all competitions, the Purples losing 2-1 at home on Saturday to NK Celje.

• Ante Šimundža's side had been 13 matches unbeaten at the Stadion Ljudski vrt, since a 2-0 reverse against NK Rudar Velenje on 23 April.

• The 18-year-old Zahovič, son of Slovenia's all-time top scorer Zlatko, has registered nine goals in 13 games this term.

• Aleš Mertelj featured in three wins in six days last week. He had 90 minutes in Slovenia's 1-0 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying victory at home to Switzerland on 9 October, came on as a half-time substitute in a 2-0 triumph over Lithuania then started Maribor's 2-0 success away to ND Gorica.

• All three of Maribor's defeats this campaign have been in the domestic championship.

• The Slovenian title holders are five away games unbeaten, winning three.

• Marko Šuler scored his first goal for the club – in his 26th 90-minute outing – as Maribor drew 3-3 with NK Olimpija Ljubljana on 4 October. Tavares scored a last-minute equaliser.

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