Marseille will know only too well the significance of the home first leg having lost to Athletic Club in the 2015/16 round of 32, Aritz Aduriz scoring the only goal in Marseille.
Article top media content
Two years after crossing swords in the round of 32, Marseille and Athletic renew acquaintance in the round of 16, with the first leg taking place, now as then, at the Stade Vélodrome in southern France.
• Runners-up to Salzburg in the group stage, Marseille overcame Braga 3-1 on aggregate in the round of 32 thanks to a first-leg 3-0 win at home in which Valère Germain struck twice.
• Athletic, who topped Group J in the autumn, also laid the foundation for their round of 32 success in the first leg, winning 3-1 at Spartak Moskva with a couple of goals from the competition's leading scorer this season Aritz Aduriz, before losing the second leg 1-2 in Bilbao.
• The clubs' only previous official encounters came in the 2015/16 round of 32. Athletic won the first leg 1-0 at the Stade Vélodrome with a spectacular Aduriz strike, sealing qualification with a 1-1 draw in Bilbao.
• Marseille have won only two of their six home games in UEFA competition against Spanish clubs, losing three. Their most notable victory was 2-1 against Celta Vigo in the first leg of the 1998/99 UEFA Cup quarter-finals en route to the final, which they lost 3-0 to Parma.
• That 1-0 victory at the Stade Vélodrome two years ago was the only time Athletic have avoided defeat in four trips to France. They have lost UEFA Europa League group encounters at both Paris Saint-Germain (2-4 in 2011/12) and Lyon (1-2 in 2012/13).
• Marseille have won five of their six European games at the Stade Vélodrome this season, drawing the other. They have scored 13 goals, conceding three. Their last home defeat in Europe was that 1-0 loss to Athletic.
• UEFA Cup runners-up in 1998/99 and 2003/04, and quarter-finalists in 2008/09, Marseille are competing in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the second time. They were defeated 3-2 on aggregate by Benfica at this juncture in 2009/10 (1-1 away, 1-2 home).
• Marseille finished fifth in last season's Ligue 1 and entered the UEFA Europa League in the third qualifying round, where they defeated Belgium's Oostende 4-2 on aggregate before getting the better of Slovenian side Domžale in the play-offs (4-1).
• Athletic are unbeaten away from home in Europe this season (W3 D3), winning the last two matches – against Zorya (2-0) and Spartak (3-1).
• Athletic are competing in the UEFA Europa League round of 16 for the third time. They have made further progress on each of the two previous occasions, beating Manchester United (3-2 away, 2-1 home) on their path to the 2011/12 final and Valencia on away goals (1-0 home, 1-2 away) in 2015/16.
• Seventh in Spain last term, Athletic are taking part in European competition for a fourth successive season – their longest unbroken sequence since the mid-1980s. Losing finalists in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup (to Juventus) and the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League (to Atlético Madrid), they reached this season’s group stage after overcoming Dinamo Bucureşti (1-1 away, 3-0 home) and Panathinaikos (3-2 away, 1-0 home) in the qualifying phase.
Links and trivia
• Both Marseille and Athletic began this season's UEFA Europa League in the third qualifying round.
• Marseille were one of only three clubs – alongside Lyon and Dortmund – to come through their round of 32 tie after playing the first leg at home.
• Adil Rami, a starter in all 12 of Marseille's European encounters this term, won the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League with Sevilla, starting seven matches including the final against Liverpool.
• Rami made over 100 Liga appearances for Valencia and Sevilla. He faced Athletic six times during his time in Spain, including twice for Sevilla in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League quarter-final.
• Marseille's Aymen Abdennour made 35 Liga appearances for Valencia between 2015 and 2017. He faced Athletic once, in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg, losing 1-0.
• Marseille are one of three UEFA Champions League winners present in the round of 16 – together with AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund.
• This will be Athletic's 60th game in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final; only Villarreal, with 62, have played more. Athletic's all-time tally of 98 goals scored is also only bettered by Villarreal (104).
• Markel Susaeta is one game away from becoming only the second player to reach the milestone of 50 UEFA Europa League appearances, group stage to final – after Daniel Carriço. Should he achieve it with Athletic, he will become the first to do so with a single club.
• Athletic's Raúl García was a 2009/10 UEFA Europa League winner with Atlético Madrid.
• Aduriz top-scored in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League, with ten goals, and is the second-highest all-time marksman in the competition proper – after 30-goal Radamel Falcao – with 25. He has seven goals in the current campaign, making him the leading scorer once again.
• Suspended for next match if booked: Lucas Ocampos, Jordan Amavi (Marseille); Xabier Etxeita, Raúl García, Mikel San José (Athletic).
• Marseille coach since October 2016, Rudi Garcia started out as a midfielder at Lille, returning to lead the club from 2008–13 and masterminding their Ligue 1/Coupe de France double triumph in 2010/11. He subsequently spent three seasons in charge of Roma, leading the Giallorossi to back-to-back runners-up spots in Serie A.
• Better known as 'Cuco', José Ángel Ziganda was a forward for Osasuna and Athletic Club who also won two caps for Spain and later guided the Pamplona side to the 2006/07 UEFA Cup semi-finals as coach. He was handed the Athletic job in May 2017, as the replacement for Barcelona-bound Ernesto Valverde, following a six-year spell as the Basque club's B team boss.