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Athletic v Valencia background

Athletic Club and Valencia are meeting for the first time in Europe, but they will be closely matched in the UEFA Europa League if their 174 Spanish meetings are anything to go by.

Athletic's Aritz Aduriz previously played for Valencia
Athletic's Aritz Aduriz previously played for Valencia ©AFP/Getty Images

Athletic Club and Valencia CF will need no introduction as they meet for the first time in Europe in the UEFA Europa League round of 16.

Previous meetings
• The sides are facing off for the first time in UEFA competition, but know each other well from domestic competitition.

• The teams have met 174 times in the Liga and Copa del Rey: Valencia are 68-65 up in terms of victories, though Athletic won the most recent encounter 3-0 at Mestalla on Sunday 28 February.

• The clubs' last knockout competition tie came in 1967, Valencia triumphing 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final. Their last two-legged affair was in the 1961/62 Spanish Cup quarter-finals: they drew the first leg in Bilbao 2-2 before Valencia edged the return 1-0.

• Athletic's three European games against Liga sides have ended W1 D1 L1 – comprising a win at home, a draw in an away match in Spain, and a 3-0 loss to Club Atlético de Madrid in the 2012 UEFA Europa League final in Bucharest.

• Valencia's 15 European fixtures against Spanish opposition have ended W7 D3 L5 (W5 D1 L1 at home – W2 D2 L3 away). They succumbed 3-0 to Real Madrid CF in the 2000 UEFA Champions League final in Paris, and have lost their last three all-Spanish two-legged UEFA ties – two of them on away goals.

Form guide
• Athletic are unbeaten in six UEFA home matches this season (W4 D2).

• Valencia's 10-0 aggregate success over SK Rapid Wien in the round of 16 was the largest two-legged margin of victory in the spring phase of a UEFA Europa League campaign.

• Athletic are two-time UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League final losers: Juventus beat them on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw in 1977, and they also went down 3-0 to Atlético Madrid in the 2012 decider. This is their first round of 16 appearance since that campaign.

• Valencia ventured from group stage to semi-finals in their most recent UEFA Europa League campaign, in 2013/14. They won the UEFA Cup in 2004, overcoming Olympique de Marseille 2-0 in the Gothenburg final.

Trivia and links
• The journey from Valencia to Bilbao is just under 500km, from the Mediterranean coast to the shores of the Atlantic.

• Athletic's Aritz Aduriz is the top scorer in this season's UEFA Europa League with seven goals; among the teams still in the running, Tottenham Hotspur FC's Erik Lamela is his closest challenger with six.

• Aduriz represented Valencia from 2010–12, leaving to rejoin Athletic at the end of his second Mestalla campaign, where he was largely used as a reserve.

• Athletic are one of two clubs to have made it all the way from the third qualifying round to the round of 16 this term, along with Borussia Dortmund.

• Athletic midfielder Óscar de Marcos can make his 50th UEFA club competition appearance in this match.

The coaches
• Ernesto Valverde took charge of Athletic for a second time in June 2013. As a player, he enjoyed the most stable period of his career in Bilbao and promptly returned to the club after retiring, including as head coach from 2003 to 2005. Subsequently, he landed three Greek titles with Olympiacos FC and coached Villarreal CF and Valencia.

• Valverde's stint as Valencia coach lasted from December 2012 to the end of the 2012/13 season, and finished with his side fifth in the table – regarded as quite an achievement in a turbulent period at the club.

• Hired as Valencia boss in December, Gary Neville was working as a pundit and as an assistant coach with the England national team. He lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy twice and claimed eight Premier League titles during his time as a Manchester United FC defender.

• Neville never played in a UEFA Europa League game. The last of his two UEFA Cup appearances came in September 1995 – a 0-0 draw at SC Rotor Volgograd. He made his continental debut in another UEFA Cup tie, playing three minutes of United's 0-0 draw against FC Torpedo Moskva in September 1992.