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Spanish rivals kick off semi-final showdown

Club Atlético de Madrid and Valencia CF know each other pretty well, and there will be no love lost when the Spanish sides meet in the first leg of the semi-final.

Atlético striker Falcao tangles with Víctor Ruiz of Valencia in their domestic league meeting in February
Atlético striker Falcao tangles with Víctor Ruiz of Valencia in their domestic league meeting in February ©Getty Images

Club Atlético de Madrid and Valencia CF do battle for a place in the UEFA Europa League final with the two Spanish sides all-too familiar with each other from both domestic and continental competition.

Previous meetings
• Regular opponents in the Liga, Atlético have good reason to remember their only previous European meeting with Valencia fondly: they overcame the Blanquinegros on away goals in the quarter-finals of the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League, going on to beat Fulham FC in the final.

• Under Quique Sánchez Flores, Atlético twice took the lead against Unai Emery's side in the opening fixture – through Diego Forlán (59) and Antonio López (72) – with Manuel Fernandes (66) and David Villa (82) striking back to earn Valencia a 2-2 draw.

• Atlético goalkeeper David de Gea – now at Manchester United FC – was the hero in the second leg as he kept out some late chances to earn his side a 0-0 draw to win the tie on away goals.

• The teams for that meeting in Madrid on 8 April 2010 were:
Atlético: De Gea, Antonio López, Forlán (Ignacio Camacho 84), Raúl García, Agüero (Eduardo Salvio 90+5), Paulo Assunção, Juanito, Ujfaluši, Álvaro Domínguez, Reyes (Jurado 46), Simão.
Valencia: César Sánchez, Maduro, Villa, Baraja, Mata (Žigić 70), Joaquín (Vicente 70), Manuel Fernandes, Pablo Hernández, Alexis (David Navarro 80), Silva, Jordi Alba.

• Valencia hold the upper hand in terms of league meetings with 55 wins to Atlético's 51 from their 144 Liga encounters. In September, Roberto Soldado's goal gave Valencia a 1-0 home win against Atlético, with the return fixture in February ending goalless.

• Atlético's record in 72 league home games against Valencia reads W33 D19 L22.

• In ten two-legged Spanish Cup contests, Atlético hold the upper hand with seven aggregate victories to Valencia's three. In addition to those games, Valencia beat Atlético 3-0 in the 1999 Copa del Rey final, but Atlético beat Valencia 2-1 in the 1972 decider.

Match background
• Atlético have played nine games against other Spanish sides in Europe, including those previous meetings with Valencia, with the record W3 D2 L4 (W3 D1 L0 at home).

• Those results include the 1958/59 European Champion Clubs' Cup semi-final against Real Madrid CF, which Atlético lost on a replay in Zaragoza after trading home wins.

• Valencia's 11 games against Spanish compatriots in UEFA competition have ended W6 D3 L2 (W2 D2 L2 away from home).

• Those away results include the final of the 1999/2000 UEFA Champions League, where Valencia were beaten 3-0 by Real Madrid in Paris.

• Valencia had won all four of their two-legged ties against Spanish sides until they lost out to Atlético in that 2009/10 UEFA Cup quarter-final.

• Valencia have met Liga rivals in a previous semi-final in this competition, beating Villarreal 1-0 on aggregate in 2003/04. They went on to beat Olympique de Marseille 2-0 in the Gothenburg decider.

• Atlético go into the first leg on a nine-game UEFA Europa League winning streak, since losing 2-0 at Udinese Calcio in the group stage.

• Atlético have won their last eight European home matches since an unexpected 3-2 loss to Aris Thessaloniki FC in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage.

• Valencia have won only one of their last nine continental fixtures on the road (1-0 at Stoke City FC in this season's round of 32), with the other eight producing four draws and four defeats.

• Valencia are the only side left in this season's competition who competed in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Their record in six UEFA Europa League games is W4 D1 L1.

Team facts
• Klaas-Jan Huntelaar remains the UEFA Europa League's top scorer with ten goals, but his FC Schalke 04 side have been eliminated. Atlético's Falcao is second in the rankings with eight, and could end up being the competition's top scorer for the second season running, having set a record in 2010/11 with 17 goals in FC Porto's triumphant campaign. No player has ended up as top scorer in successive editions of this competition before.

• With three goals, France defender Adil Rami has been Valencia's most prolific UEFA Europa League scorer this season. Two-goal midfielder Mehmet Topal is the only other player to have registered more than once since Valencia moved across from the UEFA Champions League.

• Mehmet Topal and Atlético's Arda Turan were team-mates at Galatasaray AŞ from 2006 to 2010.

• Valencia's Argentinian midfielder Éver Banega – out injured for the remainder of the campaign – spent the 2008/09 season on loan at Atlético.

• Atlético’s Adrián López and Valencia's Antonio Barragán were team-mates at RC Deportivo La Coruña from 2006-09.

• Valencia's Roberto Soldado and Atlético's Juanfran were both in the CA Osasuna team that made the semi-finals of the 2006/07 UEFA Cup.

• Atlético are the most prolific scorers left in the competition with 25 goals – one more than Athletic Club. They are the strongest finishers in the tournament in another respect too, with six of those goals coming between the 76th minute and the final whistle.

• Valencia have scored four of their 12 goals since transferring to the UEFA Europa League in the 15 minutes following the half-time interval.

• Adrián López and Falcao are the only players to have featured in all 12 of Atlético's games since the start of the group stage, starting ten each. Diego Godín and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois have played more minutes, though, featuring in all 990 minutes of their 11 matches.

• Only Jonas has appeared in all six of Valencia's games since the round of 32.

• Should Atlético make it, the final would be their 100th UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League appearance.

• Diego Simeone replaced Gregorio Manzano as Atlético coach on 23 December. The former Argentina midfielder had two spells at the club as a player, winning a domestic double in 1995/96. He won the 1997/98 UEFA Cup with FC Internazionale Milano and is coaching in Europe for a second time, having helped Calcio Catania avoid relegation from Serie A in 2010/11.

• The son and grandson of famous goalkeepers, Valencia boss Unai Emery had a modest playing career but learned quickly as a coach at Lorca Deportiva CF and UD Almería, with whom he won promotion to the Liga. Valencia chose him to replace Ronald Koeman in 2008.

Final focus
• Whoever prevails in this tie will be the nominal home side in the final at Bucharest's National Arena on 9 May.

• Valencia have been to the Romanian capital four times, with the record W1 D1 L2. Atlético's three games in Bucharest ended W1 D1 L1.

• Valencia have not met either of their potential final opponents – Sporting Clube de Portugal or Athletic Club – in Europe.

• Atlético beat Sporting on away goals in the round of 16 en route to winning the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League.

• If Athletic beat Sporting, the competition will be decided in an all-Spanish final. That was also the case for the UEFA Cup final in 2006/07, when Sevilla FC beat RCD Espanyol on penalties after a 2-2 draw.

• Of the last nine editions of this competition, four have been won by Spanish sides, with two going to Portuguese clubs.

• In 2010/11, the UEFA Europa League semi-finals featured three Portuguese teams and one Spanish one; the situation is reversed this time around, with three Spanish clubs and one from over the border in Portugal.

Competition statistics
• An updated version of the UEFA Europa League Statistics Handbook is available here:

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