Holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg of their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie against AS Livorno Calcio, RCD Espanyol have reason to be confident ahead of the home leg.
Holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg of their UEFA Cup tie against AS Livorno Calcio, RCD Espanyol have reason to be confident ahead of the return.
• A Walter Pandiani penalty – his eighth UEFA Cup goal since this season's first round – gave the Barcelona side a first-half lead, which Mohamed El Yaagoubi doubled after the interval. Fabio Galante pulled a goal back for Livorno late on in a match played behind closed doors because of the Italian authorities’ concerns over crowd safety at the Armando Picchi stadium.
• Livorno qualified for the Round of 32 as the third-placed side in UEFA Cup Group A. Espanyol finished top of Group F, winning all four of their games.
• Prior to the first leg, the two sides had never met in European competition.
• Livorno had never previously met Spanish opposition in European competition. However, defender Samuel Kuffour will have fond memories of playing against Spanish sides, winning the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League final with FC Bayern München against Valencia CF.
• Espanyol had been drawn against Italian sides on three previous occasions, beating both AC Milan and FC Internazionale Milano in two-legged UEFA Cup ties in 1987/88 and then drawing 1-1 against US Città di Palermo in last season's group stage.
• Espanyol are yet to lose a game against Italian opposition, having now won three and drawn three of their six games against Serie A sides.
• Espanyol coach Valverde faced Italian opposition in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage, with his Athletic Club Bilbao side beating Parma FC.
• In his days as an Espanyol player, Valverde played his part in two notable victories against Italian opposition en route to a penalty shoot-out defeat in the 1987/88 UEFA Cup final against Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Espanyol beat Milan on away goals in the second round, while Valverde scored the decider as the Barcelona-based side overcame Inter 2-1 on aggregate in the third round.
• Livorno's Ivorian forward Ibrahima Bakayoko meets team-mates from two different stages of his career against Espanyol. Midfielder Ivan De La Peña was a team-mate of his at Olympique de Marseille in 1999/00, while he played alongside Moroccan midfielder Moha at CA Osasuna in 2003/04.
• The first-leg lineups were:
Espanyol: Iraizoz, Velasco, Chica, Jarque, Lacruz, Costa, Ito, El Yaagoubi (Riera 60), Corominas (Hurtado 88), Pandiani (Luis García 60), Rufute.
Livorno: Amelia, Galante, César (Betanin 60), Pasquale, Grandoni, Kuffour, Fiore (Pfertzel 77), Morrone (Coppola 72), Filippini, Passoni, Lucarelli.
• The aggregate winners will face PFC CSKA Moskva or Maccabi Haifa FC in the Round of 16, playing the away leg on 8 March and the home second leg a week later.