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Round of 32 rematch for Liberec and AZ

FC Slovan Liberec and AZ Alkmaar renew acquaintances in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, having first met in the Netherlands in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage.

Liberec and AZ meet again in the round of 32
Liberec and AZ meet again in the round of 32 ©Getty Images

Having made it through their first UEFA Europa League group stage, FC Slovan Liberec take on AZ Alkmaar in the round of 32.

Previous meetings
• The sides faced each other in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage, with Louis van Gaal's AZ twice coming from behind to earn a 2-2 draw at home to Vitězslav Lavička's Liberec.

• The teams for that fixture on 29 November 2006 were:
Sinouh (Boulters 38), Opdam, De Cler, Gudjonsson, Schaars, Arveladze, Martens, Dembélé (Lens 78), Koevermans (Jenner 59), Steinsson, Mendes.
Liberec: Čech, Zápotočný, Bílek, Koštál, Parks (Pospěch 79), Janů, Šinglár, Frejlach, Papoušek (Dohnálek 89), Pudil, Blažek (Hodúr 89).

Match background
• Liberec's five games against Dutch sides have ended: W1 D4 L0 (W1 D1 L0 at home – W0 D3 L0 in the Netherlands).

• AZ's three games against Czech sides ended: W1 D2 L0 (W1 D1 L0 at home – W0 D1 L0 in the Czech Republic).

• Liberec failed to make it through to the round of 32 in their only previous group stage appearance, in 2006/07, but reached the last eight of the 2001/02 UEFA Cup, bowing out with a 4-0 aggregate loss to Borussia Dortmund.

• This is Liberec's 13th European game of the season; their longest previous campaign was that ten-match journey to the 2001/02 UEFA Cup quarter-finals.

• AZ came through the group stage unbeaten (W3 D3) and have not lost in four away fixtures in Europe this term (W2 D2).

• AZ have reached the round of 32 four times since the advent of the UEFA Cup group stage and have progressed to the next phase on three occasions, beating TSV Alemannia Aachen in 2004/05, Fenerbahçe SK in 2006/07 and RSC Anderlecht in 2011/12.

Team facts
• AZ's Australian forward Eli Babalj celebrates his 21st birthday the day after the first leg.

• Liberec committed the most fouls in the group stage, 125, and received three red cards.

Coach information
• Hired in June 2011, Jaroslav Šilhavý led Liberec to the Czech championship in his first season at the club. It was his first major title, with the coach having gained experience on the national team staff and by taking charge of SK Kladno, home-town club FC Viktoria Plzeň and Dynamo České Budějovice. As a defender, he played a Czech record 465 league games for Plzeň, RH Cheb, SK Slavia Praha, FK Drnovice and FK Viktoria Žižkov.

• AZ dismissed Gertjan Verbeek ahead of matchday two. He had been in charge since 2010 and led the club to Dutch Cup success last season.

• Dick Advocaat was named AZ coach on 16 October, returning to the club where he spent five months in charge at the end of the 2009/10 campaign. Twice Netherlands coach, he won the 2007/08 UEFA Cup with FC Zenit, as well as national titles with PSV Eindhoven (1997/98), Rangers FC (1998/99, 1999/2000) and FC Zenit (2007).

• Advocaat is one of five coaches in the round of 32 to have led a side to victory in this competition before. FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk's Juande Ramos (Sevilla FC, 2006 & 2007), PAOK FC's Huub Stevens, who won it as a player (PSV Eindhoven, 1978) and a coach (FC Schalke 04, 1997), FC Shakhtar Donetsk's Mircea Lucescu (Shakhtar 2009) and SSC Napoli's Rafael Benítez (Valencia CF, 2004 & Chelsea FC, 2013) are the others.

• The second leg of this tie is set to be Advocaat's 100th UEFA club competition game as a coach.

Round of 16
• The winners of this tie will meet FC Anji Makhachkala or KRC Genk in the round of 16, playing the first leg at home.

• Liberec have yet to meet either side.

• AZ have not faced Genk, but will remember Anji with a shudder. Under Dutchman Guus Hiddink, Anji eliminated AZ from last season's UEFA Europa League play-offs. AZ lost 1-0 in Moscow then 5-0 at home: Anji's biggest continental away win and AZ's heaviest European home defeat.