ACF Fiorentina begin their quest for a first continental trophy since the 1960/61 European Cup Winners' Cup with a Group E encounter against FC Paços de Ferreira.
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ACF Fiorentina kick off their second attempt at the group stage of this competition with a UEFA Europa League Group E home meeting against a FC Paços de Ferreira side on something of a losing streak.
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, and this is Paços's first encounter with Italian opposition.
• Fiorentina have come off slightly the worse in their eight encounters with Portuguese sides, with the record W2 D3 L3 (W1 D2 L1 at home). However, they did come through their only tie against Liga opponents since the turn of the millennium, overcoming Sporting Clube de Portugal in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League play-offs thanks to drawing 1-1 at home after a 2-2 tie in Lisbon.
• This is Fiorentina's first appearance in this group stage since they reached the semi-finals of the 2007/08 UEFA Cup, though they subsequently appeared in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2008/09 and 2009/10.
• A 1-0 defeat at home to Grasshopper Club in this season's UEFA Europa League play-off second leg ended a four-game winning streak at home in Europe for Fiorentina, though it was sufficient for them to win the tie on away goals.
• This is only Paços's third season in European football. They are on a four-game losing streak following back-to-back losses against Bnei Yehuda Tel-Aviv FC in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round and an 8-3 aggregate loss to FC Zenit in this season's UEFA Champions League play-offs.
• Paços's 4-2 loss to Zenit in their play-off second leg was the first time that they had scored more than once in a European match; in their previous seven European fixtures they had managed only two goals in total. However, prior to this season they had also never conceded more than once in six UEFA fixtures.
• Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez has scored only once in four games against Portuguese sides – a group stage winner for Germany at UEFA EURO 2012 – but has been on the winning side in all four games: a 1-0 Under-21 win, victories at UEFA EURO 2008 (3-2) and UEFA EURO 2012 (1-0) with Germany and a 3-0 win against SL Benfica with VfB Stuttgart in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup.
• Fiorentina coach since June 2012, Vincenzo Montella is still best remembered as a striker for AS Roma, where he was known as L'Aeroplanino (The Little Aeroplane) because of his modest stature and trademark goal celebration. He won the 2000/01 Serie A title and two Coppa Italias with Roma before moving on to coach their youth team. After coaching Roma and Calcio Catania, he led Fiorentina to a fourth-placed finish in his first season in charge.
• Coach Sérgio Gaminha is on the bench for Paços, though the man picking the team is Costinha, who replaced FC Porto-bound Paulo Fonseca at the club in summer 2013. A midfielder in the Porto side that won the 2002/03 UEFA Cup and 2003/04 UEFA Champions League under José Mourinho, Costinha also played in France, Spain, Russia and Italy, and was sporting director at Sporting Clube de Portugal and Servette FC before taking charge of SC Beira-Mar.