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Plzeň v Astra background

Plzeň got the better of Astra's one-time city rivals Petrolul Ploieşti in their only previous home game against Romanian opponents – and could do with a repeat in Group E.

Plzeň goalkeeper Petr Bolek
Plzeň goalkeeper Petr Bolek ©AFP/Getty Images

Plzeň's recent European form has not been the best, with both the Czech club and opponents Astra in need of a lift as they enter UEFA Europa League matchday three with a combined total of two Group E points.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition.

• Plzeň lost out to Petrolul Ploieşti – Astra's local rivals until their 2012 move to Giurgiu – in their only previous encounter with Romanian opposition, drawing 1-1 away and losing 4-1 at home in a 2014/15 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round tie. Astra's Geraldo Alves played in those games for Petrolul.

• Astra beat Slovan Liberec home and away at the same stage of the same competition that season, in what was their lone meeting with a Czech team. They won 3-2 in Liberec and 3-0 in Giurgiu.

Form guide
• Plzeň are currently without a victory in 11 European matches (D6 L5) and have drawn six of their last seven UEFA fixtures – including five of their six fixtures this season.

• Plzeň have advanced from one of their previous two UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, reaching the round of 16 in 2012/13.

• Astra and Qarabağ have the worst defensive records so far in this group stage, each with seven goals conceded.

• Astra's record in six European games this term is W1 D2 L3 (W1 L2 away from home).

• Astra were eliminated at the end of their only preceding UEFA Europa League group stage campaign in 2014/15.

Links and trivia
• The journey from Giurgiu to Plzen is around 1,150km.

The coaches
• Roman Pivarník took the Plzeň reins this summer following a two-year stint with Prague side Bohemians. This is his first continental foray as a coach, though he notably helped Rapid Wien make the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final as a midfielder in 1996.

• Marius Șumudică steered Astra to a maiden Romanian title in 2015/16, having previously won the league as a player with Rapid Bucureşti in 1998/99. He played in Portugal, Hungary and Cyprus as a striker, and has coached in Greece and the United Arab Emirates.