Romanian champions CFR Cluj welcome Italian Cup winners Lazio, who are making a record-equalling eighth group appearance.
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After four qualifying ties in the UEFA Champions League, Romanian champions CFR Cluj find themselves in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League where they host Italian Cup winners Lazio, who are making a record-equalling eighth appearance at this juncture of the competition.
• CFR and Lazio have never met in a UEFA encounter, but the Romanian side have twice been paired with Lazio's city rivals Roma, famously winning their first ever UEFA Champions League group fixture 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico in September 2008 with Juan Culio scoring both goals. They lost the return 1-3 at home and then took just one point off the same opponents at the same stage of the competition two years later (1-2 a, 1-1 h). They also lost both legs of their 2012/13 UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie to Internazionale (0-2 a, 0-3 h).
• Lazio's record in Romania is W1 D1 L1, the defeat having come on their most recent visit, at FCSB in the first leg of their 2017/18 UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie (0-1). However, they turned that tie around with a 5-1 victory in Rome – the club's biggest home win in the UEFA Europa League proper.
• CFR claimed their fifth Romanian league title – and second in succession – in 2018/19, all those triumphs having come since 2008. In Europe, they lost to Malmö in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League (0-1 h, 1-1 a) and got no further than the UEFA Europa League play-offs, where they were beaten twice (0-2 a, 2-3 h) by Dudelange of Luxembourg.
• A 1-0 loss at Astana kicked off this season's UEFA Champions League campaign, but CFR turned that tie around with a 3-1 home success and went on to beat Maccabi Tel-Aviv (1-0 h, 2-2 a) before producing a memorable 4-3 second-leg victory away to Celtic to win their third qualifying round tie 5-4 on aggregate. Slavia Praha proved too good for them in the play-offs, winning both games 1-0 to send CFR into their second UEFA Europa League group stage, the first, in 2009/10, having ended with just one win and five defeats.
• CFR have lost five of their last seven home fixtures in the UEFA Europa League, qualifying included (W1 D1), and have been victorious in only three of their last ten home fixtures in all European competitions (D2 L5). Their overall record, home and away, in the UEFA Europa League proper is W1 L7, with defeats in all of the last seven.
• Lazio defeated Atalanta 2-0 in last season's Coppa Italia final to lift the trophy for the seventh time and gain direct access to the UEFA Europa League group stage – a competition they exited in the round of 32 last season after losing home (0-1) and away (0-2) to Sevilla. Their eighth group appearance matches Salzburg's competition record.
• Their last six UEFA Europa League group stage participations have all been successful – after failure in the first – and they have topped their section on three occasions. Their best performances came in 2012/13 and 2017/18, when they reached the quarter-finals.
• Runners-up to Inter in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup, Lazio have won 11 of their last 16 continental outings in Rome (D2 L3), though they have lost the last two. In the UEFA Europa League group stage overall their home record is W14 D4 L3, a matchday six loss to Eintracht Frankfurt last term ending a 17-match unbeaten run in such fixtures at the Stadio Olimpico.
Links and trivia
• CFR's Croatian midfielder Damjan Djoković has played in Italy for Monza, Cesena, Bologna, Livorno and Spezia.
• CFR coach Dan Petrescu won his first cap for Romania against Italy in March 1989 – a 1-0 friendly win in Sibiu – and later played for two Italian clubs (Foggia 1991–93 and Genoa 1993–94). As a Steaua player, he lost the 1989 European Cup final 4-0 to AC Milan.
• Lazio's Romanian defender Ștefan Radu joined the Rome club in 2008 after starting his career with Dinamo Bucureşti. He played for Dinamo against Lazio in a 2007/08 UEFA Champions League qualifier.
• This is Lazio's 65th match in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. Only Villarreal (74 games) and Salzburg (71) have played more.
• The sixth most-capped Romanian international of all time, with 95 appearances, Petrescu played in four successive major tournaments from 1994 to 2000. The attacking right-back also carved out a successful career at club level, notably with Steaua Bucureşti and in England at Chelsea, with whom he spent five years and won three major trophies. He has had a diverse coaching career, the highlight a surprise Romanian title triumph with Unirea Urziceni in 2008/09 – a feat he repeated with CFR Cluj in 2017/18 and again the following season after returning from China in March 2019.
• Lazio boss since April 2016, when he replaced Stefano Pioli, Simone Inzaghi represented the club as a forward between 1999 and 2010, winning the Italian double in his debut season and the Coppa Italia twice more in later years. The younger brother of fellow ex-Italian international Filippo Inzaghi, with whom he played at home-town outfit Piacenza, he began coaching Lazio's youth teams immediately after hanging up his boots. His first trophy as head coach was the 2017 Italian Super Cup, his second the Coppa Italia two years later.