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Anniversary augurs well as Rijeka host Betis

Having secured the first of a pair of notable Spanish coups on 3 October 1984, HNK Rijeka will hope the date augurs well as they meet Real Betis Balompié in UEFA Europa League Group I.

Rijeka players celebrate a UEFA Europa League play-off win
Rijeka players celebrate a UEFA Europa League play-off win ©Getty Images

HNK Rijeka will hope that 3 October proves to be an auspicious date once more as they look to claim a third Spanish scalp in UEFA Europa League Group I, that of Real Betis Balompié.

Previous meetings
• Rijeka and Betis are meeting for the first time in European competition and this is Betis's first game against a Croatian club.

• Rijeka's six encounters with Spanish opponents stand at W2 D1 L3 (W2 D0 L1 at home), with Real Valladolid CF (4-1) and Real Madrid CF (3-1) coming unstuck at the Stadion Kantrida in successive games in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup, although Madrid did recover to win the second leg of their second round tie 3-0 and went on to lift the trophy that season.

• Betis' game at the Stadion Kantrida falls on the 29th anniversary of that 4-1 win against Valladolid, on 3 October 1984. That completed a 4-2 aggregate success in the first round.

Match background
• Rijeka made it to their first ever UEFA group stage campaign with an unexpected aggregate victory against VfB Stuttgart in this season's play-offs.

• Unbeaten in their first six European games this season (W4 D2), Rijeka went down 4-0 at Vitória SC on matchday one – their heaviest defeat in Europe to date and the first time they have conceded four in a continental game since winning 5-4 at Valletta FC in the 2000/01 UEFA Cup qualifying round.

• Betis are in this group stage for the first time, though they reached the round of 32 of this competition in 2005/06 after finishing third in their section in their maiden UEFA Champions League group stage campaign. They eventually bowed out to FC Steaua Bucureşti in the round of 16.

• Betis remain unbeaten in three European games this season after holding Olympique Lyonnais to a 0-0 draw in Seville on matchday one. They come to Rijeka having not conceded in their last two European fixtures.

Team facts
• Seville is the only city to have two representatives in this season's UEFA Europa League, with Betis's neighbours Sevilla FC competing in Group H.

• Croatian sides have traditionally come off worse in games against Spanish clubs, with the record W6 D7 L18 (W6 D4 L6 at home – W0 D3 L12 in Spain). Worryingly for Rijeka as they look ahead to their matchday six trip to Seville, the Croatian clubs scored just five goals between them in those 15 visits to Spain.

Coach information
• Hired in February 2013, Slovenian coach Matjaž Kek led Rijeka to a third-placed finish at the end of that season and into Europe. Famous for taking Slovenia to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals, Kek started and ended his playing career as a defender at NK Maribor – where his father played, and now his son – either side of a long spell in Austria. He returned home to Maribor for his first coaching roles, and more recently had a spell in Saudi Arabia with Al-Ittihad.

• Betis coach Pepe Mel played in the Real Madrid CF youth team with Emilio Butragueño and Míchel, but the striker was to spend most of his career outside the top flight, peaking with a four-year spell at Betis between 1989 and 1993. He briefly returned to the top division as CD Tenerife coach in 2001/02 and is back again having led Betis to promotion in his first season in charge, 2010/11. He has found the time to write two novels while coaching the club.