AEK v Rijeka background

AEK Athens and Rijeka have different motives for seeking a victory on matchday five; while the Greek side could progress, their Croatian visitors need three points to stay in contention.

AEK have the chance to qualify on matchday five
AEK have the chance to qualify on matchday five ©AFP/Getty Images

AEK Athens entertain Rijeka in UEFA Europa League Group D with the prospect of sealing a place in the knockout phase prior to matchday six.

• To ensure further progress with a game to spare, AEK must defeat their Croatian visitors and hope that Austria Wien do not simultaneously pull off a shock win at section leaders AC Milan.

• Rijeka will be out if they fail to win.

Previous meetings
• The first UEFA competition encounter between the two teams, on 14 September, resulted in a 2-1 away win for AEK, Petros Mantalos and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos scoring the goals that eclipsed Josip Elez's strike for the hosts.

• AEK have now won six of their seven matches against Croatian teams, the only setback being a 3-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb (then representing Yugoslavia) in a 1964/65 European Cup Winners' Cup preliminary round game.

• Rijeka lost to another Greek club, Olympiacos, in this season's UEFA Champions League play-offs. They went down 2-1 in Piraeus and 1-0 at home in their first fixtures against Greek opponents.

Form guide
• AEK are unbeaten in their last six matches in Europe (W2 D4), all in this season's UEFA Europa League; their last three fixtures have been drawn.

• Prior to this season Rijeka had never scored in six away UEFA Europa League group stage games; they have managed five goals in two fixtures this term.

• Winners of Greece's end-of-season UEFA Champions League play-offs in 2016/17, AEK have had five previous UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, most recently in 2011/12. They have only made it into the round of 32 once, in 2007/08.

• Croatian title winners for the first time last term, Rijeka are in their third UEFA Europa League group stage campaign but have yet to reach the knockout phase.

Highlights: Rijeka 1-2 AEK
Highlights: Rijeka 1-2 AEK

Links and trivia
• The journey from Rijeka to Athens is around 1,100km.

• Rijeka boast Greek talent in the form of former Panathinaikos winger Charis Mavrias; he and AEK's Christodoulopoulos were team-mates with the Greens from 2010–13.

• AEK possess a Croatian player in former Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split trainee Marko Livaja; on loan from Las Palmas, he has never played senior football in his native country.

• Livaja and Rijeka's Florentin Matei were on the books together at Italian side Cesena in 2011/12.

• AEK's Dmytro Chygrynskiy won the UEFA Cup as a Shakhtar Donetsk player in 2009.

• Rijeka's Swiss striker Mario Gavranović turns 28 the day after the game.

• Rijeka's Josip Mišić misses this match through suspension after receiving a red card in the matchday four encounter at home to Austria Wien.

• Suspended for next match if booked: André Simões, Marko Livaja (AEK); Filip Bradarić, Elez (Rijeka).

The coaches
• Manolo Jiménez returned for a second spell as AEK coach in January 2017, having guided the club to 2010/11 Greek Cup glory during his first stint. The ex-Spain international left-back has also coached Sevilla, Real Zaragoza and Al-Rayyan.

• Rijeka's longest-serving coach, Slovenian Matjaž Kek was appointed in 2013 and steered the team to their first league championship and fourth Croatian Cup in 2016/17. A defender and coach at Maribor, where his father and son also played, he was Slovenia boss from 2007–11.