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Home record at stake as AEK Larnaca host Schalke

AEK Larnaca FC will defend their seven-game unbeaten home record in European club competition when they host a German side, section leaders FC Schalke 04, for the first time.

Christian Fuchs scored twice in Schalke's 3-1 defeat of Maccabi Haifa last time out
Christian Fuchs scored twice in Schalke's 3-1 defeat of Maccabi Haifa last time out ©Getty Images

FC Schalke 04 will aim to build on their lead at the top of Group J when they travel to Cyprus take on an AEK Larnaca FC side who have not lost in seven European club competition home games.

Previous meetings
• The teams are meeting for the first time and this is also AEK's first tie against a German club.

• In Schalke's only tie against a Cypriot outfit, they won 4-1 in Nicosia and then drew 1-1 at home against APOEL FC in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup first round.

• Pezoporikos FC, who merged with EPA Larnaca FC to form AEK in 1994, took on VfB Stuttgart in the first round of the 1980/81 UEFA Cup. They lost 4-1 in Larnaca and 6-0 back in Germany.

Match background
• AEK are unbeaten in seven European club competition home games (five wins and two draws, one of which a 0-0 against FC Barcelona on 26 September 1996) since they took on their current guise.

• Schalke have not won in four UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League away fixtures (two draws and two defeats) since that 4-1 victory at APOEL in the first round on 16 September 2008. Their first away tie this season ended in a shock 2-0 loss at HJK Helsinki, though they won the return fixture 6-1.

Team facts
• AEK's Dutch captain Kevin Hofland played in Germany for VfL Wolfsburg from 2004 to 2007. His three games against Schalke in that period ended in a win, a draw and a defeat.

• Hofland and Schalke's Ghanaian defender Hans Sarpei were team-mates during that period.

• AEK defender Tim de Cler and Schalke forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar were both part of the Netherlands' squad that made it to the quarter-finals at UEFA EURO 2008.

• AEK are coached by Dutchman Ton Caanen, with help from sporting director Jordi Cruyff – son of the great Johan Cruyff. Following a spell in Ukraine with FC Metalurh Donetsk, Caanen was in charge of Beitar Jerusalem FC and Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in Israel. He later coached FC Stal Alchevsk and Maltese side Valletta FC before coming to ambitious AEK in 2010.

• Huub Stevens was named as Schalke's new coach before matchday two, replacing Ralf Rangnick. In his second spell in charge, Rangnick led the Gelsenkirchen club to the semi-finals of last season's UEFA Champions League, but resigned saying he no longer had "the necessary energy to be successful and to develop the team and the club".

• Stevens first coached Schalke from 1996 to 2002, winning the 1997 UEFA Cup as well as German Cups in 2001 and 2002. Originally a defender for Fortuna Sittard and PSV Eindhoven, the Dutchman was named by fans as the coach of Schalke's team of the century in 1999.