ŠK Slovan Bratislava welcome Athletic Club to Slovakia for the first time in Group F and will be buoyed by having won two of their three home games in Europe this season.
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ŠK Slovan Bratislava have yet to win in two home games against Spanish sides, but as Athletic Club visit in UEFA Europa League Group F, a past meeting with FC Barcelona will remind the Slovak contenders that miracles can happen.
• The teams are crossing paths for the first time in Europe and this is also Athletic's first encounter with Slovak opponents.
• Slovan have contested five games against Spanish clubs, with their record reading W1 D2 L2, and have lost both of their previous home fixtures against Liga opponents.
• Their four most recent meetings with Spanish sides pale into insignificance alongside their first; it seems improbable now, but Slovan beat Barcelona 3-2 to win the 1969 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final in Basel. They remain the only team from Slovakia – and the first from eastern Europe – to have won a major UEFA club competition.
• Slovan have won two of their three home games in Europe so far this season, having not prevailed on home soil in UEFA competition since July 2009.
• Athletic were given a bye to the UEFA Europa League after their play-off against Trabzonspor AŞ was abandoned midway through the tie, following a 0-0 draw in Spain; the Black Sea side were invited to take Fenerbahçe SK's place in the UEFA Champions League after the latter's place in Europe was withdrawn by the Turkish Football Association (TFF).
• Slovan's Marian Hád celebrates his 29th birthday the day after the Athletic game. The left-back has been returned to his native Slovakia in January 2010 following a spell abroad in which he represented FC Lokomotiv Moskva, Sporting Clube de Portugal and AC Sparta Praha.
• Slovan are the second Slovak side to qualify for the group stage of this competition; MŠK Žilina made it in 2008/09 and triumphed 2-1 at Aston Villa FC but were eliminated with four points from five games.
• Vladimír Weiss led Slovakia to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals but now combines his work with the national team with coaching Slovan. He is part of a footballing dynasty: his father, also Vladimír Weiss, played for Czechoslovakia, while his son, another Vladimír Weiss, is a Slovak international. The Slovan coach represented both Czechoslovakia and Slovakia as a midfielder.
• Athletic's new coach is former Argentina defender Marcelo Bielsa, who briefly coached RCD Espanyol in Spain in 1998 before taking charge of the Argentina (1998–2004) and Chile (2007–11) national teams. Athletic's 0-0 draw against Trabzonspor in the play-offs was his first UEFA club competition game.