Already in the round of 32, Zürich are looking for a third Group A home win at the expense of eliminated AEK Larnaca.
Article top media content
With qualification for the round of 32 already secured, FC Zürich are free of pressure as they seek their third home win out of three in UEFA Europa League Group A against an AEK Larnaca side whose failure to win any of their opening four matches in the section means this will be their final fixture in mainland Europe this season.
• Although they were defeated last time out at Bayer Leverkusen (0-1), the nine points FCZ took from their opening three matches, including home wins against Ludogorets (1-0) and Leverkusen (3-2), proved enough to take them through to the knockout phase with two games to spare.
• AEK's elimination was sealed with back-to-back draws against Ludogorets (1-1 home, 0-0 away) following earlier defeats at home to Zürich (0-1) and away to Leverkusen (2-4).
• FCZ defeated AEK in Nicosia on matchday one thanks to a 61st-minute penalty from Kosovo international Benjamin Kololli. That was AEK's first encounter with a Swiss club.
• The sides had never previously met although Pezoporikos, one of the two clubs that merged to form AEK in 1994, took on Zürich in the 1992/93 UEFA Cup first round, going down 3-2 on aggregate after a second-leg 0-1 defeat in Switzerland.
• Zürich have won all three of their previous home games against Cypriot opposition, scoring eight goals and conceding just one – in the most recent such fixture, 3-1 against Apollon Limassol on matchday five of the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Zürich ensured a return to Europe after a year's absence by winning the Swiss Cup for the third time in five years – and tenth time in all – as they denied champions Young Boys the double with a 2-1 win in the Berne final.
• FCZ are in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the fourth time and had never progressed to the knockout phase until this successful campaign. They did, however, reach the round of 32 on their sole UEFA Cup group stage participation, in 2007/08.
• The Swiss club are unbeaten in their last ten home group games in the UEFA Europa League (W6 D4). Their only defeat on Swiss soil in the competition proper came in their first such fixture, 0-2 against Sporting CP on matchday one of the 2011/12 season.
• AEK qualified for this season's UEFA Europa League by winning the Cypriot Cup for the second time – and first in 14 years – after coming from behind to defeat Apollon 2-1 in the final. They are in Europe for the fourth successive season and in the UEFA Europa League group stage for the second time, having lost successive play-offs to Czech opposition in the last two campaigns.
• AEK took just one point from their three away games in the 2011/12 group stage, in a 0-0 draw at Schalke. They finished bottom of the section with five points, their only win having come on matchday five – 2-1 at home to Maccabi Haifa.
• The club's matchday one defeat at home to Zürich ended a seven-match unbeaten run in Europe (W4 D3). Their record away from home in this season's UEFA Europa League, qualifying included, is W1 D3 L1 and includes three clean sheets.
Links and trivia
• Zürich defender Alain Nef scored on his international debut for Switzerland in a Geneva friendly against Cyprus in August 2008. His current coach Ludovic Magnin appeared alongside him, while AEK assistant coach Elias Charalambous played for the opposition.
• FCZ's five European goals this term have been scored by five different players. They are the first Swiss side to reach the UEFA Europa League round of 32 since 2015/16, when two clubs, Basel and Sion, progressed from the group stage.
• AEK's added-time consolation strike in their matchday two defeat at Leverkusen was scored by substitute Dimitris Raspas, who became, at 17 years and 186 days, the fifth youngest goalscorer in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final. The record still belongs to Romelu Lukaku, aged 16 years and 218 days when he scored for Anderlecht against Ajax in the inaugural 2009/10 season.
• A Swiss international left-back from 2000 to 2010 who won 62 caps for his country and appeared at four successive major tournaments, Ludovic Magnin spent most of that time in Germany with Werder Bremen and Stuttgart, winning the Bundesliga with both, before ending his career back in his homeland with Zürich. It was with FCZ's youth teams that he made his first steps as a coach before graduating to the top job in February 2018 and steering the club to Swiss Cup glory three months later.
• A former Spanish international full-back who spent the vast majority of his career in Bilbao at Athletic Club, Andoni Iraola did not finish playing until November 2016, after 18 months of MLS football with New York City, and had no major coaching experience when he was announced as AEK's new manager in June 2018 in succession to compatriot Imanol Idiakez. He was a stalwart of the Athletic side that finished runners-up to Atlético Madrid in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League, and appeared in three Copa del Rey finals.