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Olympiacos next up for debutants Levante

Levante UD's superb debut season continues with a tie against experienced European opposition as Olympiacos FC travel to Valencia for this round of 32 first leg.

Levante enjoyed a successful first stab at European competiton during the autumn
Levante enjoyed a successful first stab at European competiton during the autumn ©AFP/Getty Images

Levante UD and Olympiacos FC meet for the first time in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, but plenty of former team-mates will be eager to renew acquaintances in Valencia.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time competitively in what is Levante's first tie against Greek opponents.

• Olympiacos's 24 games against Spanish sides have ended W5 D8 L11 (W5 D6 L1 at home – W0 D2 L10 in Spain). They have yet to win a game in Spain, but the only Spanish side to beat Olympiacos at home were Levante's neighbours Valencia CF, who won 4-2 in Greece in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• Olympiacos and Valencia have met four times, with Valencia winning three of those games and Olympiacos one – a 1-0 home win in the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League first group stage.

Match background
• This is Levante's first season in UEFA competition. The debutants and European champions Chelsea FC have played the fewest games in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League of any of the sides in the round of 32 – eight each.

• Levante's European record so far reads W5 D2 L1. They won their first three European home games without conceding but lost that 100% record when they drew 2-2 against Hannover 96 on matchday six. They finished second in Group L behind the German side.

• Olympiacos qualified for the last 32 by finishing third in their UEFA Champions League group. They won one of their three away games in the autumn, beating Montpellier Hérault SC 2-1, but lost the other two fixtures.

• Olympiacos have reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup (1992/93) and UEFA Champions League (1998/99), but have never got beyond the last 16 in this competition (2004/05 and 2011/12).

Team facts 
• Levante defender Sergio Ballesteros and Olympiacos midfielder Ariel Ibagaza were team-mates at RCD Mallorca (2006–08), with another Levante centre-half – David Navarro – playing with them (2007–08) while on loan at the island club.

• Levante left-back Juanfran and Olympiacos centre-back Pablo Contreras played together at RC Celta de Vigo (2001–04).

• Levante boast Greek talent in the form of defender Nikos Karabelas: he played alongside Olympiacos's Avraam Papadopoulos at Aris Thessaloniki FC (2006–08).

• Levante midfielder Nabil El Zhar also spent a season in Greece on loan at PAOK FC (2010–11), during which he also played alongside Contreras.

• During a spell at AEK Athens FC (2008–09), Juanfran played alongside Olympiacos defender Kostas Manolas and forward Rafik Djebbour.

• Olympiacos's Spanish midfielder David Fuster knows the Valencia region well: the former Villarreal CF player was born 65km from Valencia in Oliva.

• This is Levante coach Juan Ignacio Martínez's first campaign in UEFA club competition. As a midfielder, he never rose higher than the third tier in Spanish football and coached in youth and women's football, working his way up the senior men's leagues to take charge of Levante in June 2011. He is often known by his initials, JIM, in Spain.

• Former Real Madrid CF midfielder Míchel replaced Portuguese coach Leonardo Jardim as Olympiacos boss in early February. The new coach won six league titles with Madrid and was a member of the side that won back-to-back UEFA Cups in 1984/85 and 1985/86. He has since coached Rayo Vallecano de Madrid, Getafe CF and Sevilla FC.

Round of 16: Levante/Olympiacos v Club Atlético de Madrid/FC Rubin Kazan
• The first legs will be played on 7 March, with the returns the following Thursday.

• Olympiacos have met both of their potential opponents before, and Levante know Atlético well from their domestic league.

• Olympiacos and Rubin met in last season's round of 32, with the Piraeus side progressing to the round of 16 with 1-0 wins in both legs.

• Ibagaza could also meet his old club, Atlético – whom he represented from 2003 to 2006. The teams have met before in the 1992/93 Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals, with the Spanish side prevailing 3-1 at home after a 1-1 draw in Greece.