NK Maribor are breaking new ground as they make their UEFA Europa League round of 32 debut, with Sevilla FC eager to end a run of springtime disappointments.
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NK Maribor will look to continue Sevilla FC's unhappy run in springtime European ties as the Slovenian champions break new ground in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition, in what is Sevilla's first encounter with Slovenian opponents.
• Maribor's four previous games against Spanish teams ended W1 D1 L2 (W0 D1 L1 at home – W1 D0 L1 in Spain).
• Maribor made it through the UEFA Europa League group stage for the first time at the third attempt this season, and this will be their first springtime UEFA club competition fixture.
• Maribor have won only one of their last five European home assignments, a 2-1 win against Wigan Athletic FC on matchday six ending a four-game barren run (D1 L3).
• Sevilla have not won a two-legged springtime UEFA tie in three attempts since they lifted the second of their back-to-back UEFA Cups in 2007.
• Sevilla are unbeaten in ten European games this season (W7 L3), including wins in four of their five away fixtures.
• Sevilla (2006 & 2007) are one of four previous UEFA Cup winners to have made it through the group stage along with Tottenham Hotspur FC (1972, 1984), Eintracht Frankfurt (1980) and Valencia CF (2004). Five more former winners have now parachuted into the competition from the UEFA Champions League group stage: SSC Napoli (1989), FC Shakhtar Donetsk (2009), AFC Ajax (1992), FC Porto (2003, 2011) and final hosts Juventus (1977, 1990, 1993).
• Maribor are the first Slovenian side to reach this stage of the competition; with PFC Ludogorets Razgrad also breaking new UEFA Europa League ground for Bulgaria, that means clubs from 23 nations have now featured in the round of 32.
• Maribor are one of nine domestic champions in the round of 32 along with AFC Ajax (Netherlands), FC Basel 1893 (Switzerland), Juventus (Italy), Ludogorets (Bulgaria), Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (Israel), FC Viktoria Plzeň (Czech Republic), Porto (Portugal) and Shakhtar (Ukraine).
• Maribor sacked their Croatian coach Ante Čačić ahead of matchday two after just four months in charge. Čačić and AZ Alkmaar's Gertjan Verbeek were dismissed on the same day, making them the first coaching casualties of the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Maribor hired Ante Šimundža as their new coach, with the 42-year-old leaving NK Aluminij to return to the club he played over 200 games for as a striker. Capped three times by Slovenia, he played abroad with BSC Young Boys, Malmö FF and RAA Louviéroise, returning to Maribor as assistant to Darko Milanič. He subsequently took sole command of ND Mura 05, Austrian side Grazer AK and then Aluminij.
• Sevilla coach since January 2013, Unai Emery started out as a midfielder at Real Sociedad de Fútbol, but was to play the bulk of his career in Spain's second division, switching from playing to coaching at Lorca Deportiva CF after a serious knee injury. Having led UD Almería to the top tier, he coached Valencia CF from 2008 to 2012, with his side regular European contenders during that spell. More recently he had a brief stint at FC Spartak Moskva.
Round of 16
• The winners of this tie will meet the victors between Real Betis Balompié and FC Rubin Kazan in the round of 16, playing the first leg at home.
• Maribor have never met Betis, but took on Rubin in this season's group stage, losing 5-2 at home then drawing 1-1 in Kazan.
• Sevilla have never met Rubin but know their city rivals Betis well – though they have yet to meet in UEFA competition.