Quarter-finalists last season, Lazio start another group campaign against Apollon Limassol, who have also become competition regulars.
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Quarter-finalists last season, Lazio embark on their seventh UEFA Europa League group campaign with a home game against an Apollon Limassol side that came through four qualifying ties to take their place at this juncture of the competition for the fourth time in six years.
• The clubs' only previous encounters came when they were paired together in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage, a 0-0 draw in Cyprus preceding a 2-1 win for Lazio in Rome two weeks later. Fotis Papoulis (a scorer in the Stadio Olimpico), Bruno Vale, Georgios Vasiliou and Marios Stylianou played in both games for Apollon, whereas Ştefan Radu is the sole Lazio survivor.
• Lazio won both of their other two games against Cypriot opposition, defeating Omonia home and away in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup first round, whereas Apollon are still seeking their first win against an Italian club having lost all three away games and drawn all three at home. Indeed, no Cypriot side has beaten an Italian opponent in 24 UEFA club competition matches, the 12 games in Italy all won by the home team.
• Edged out of fourth place and into fifth in last season's Serie A by Internazionale on the final day, Lazio are back for a seventh venture into the UEFA Europa League, their best performances having been in 2012/13 and 2017/18, when they reached the quarter-finals.
• The Rome side have played more games in the competition than any other Italian club, this being their 57th – and 37th in the group stage. Their last five group stage participations have all been successful – after failures in the first two – and they have topped their section on three of those occasions. However, they have only won once at home on matchday one in four attempts – 1-0 against Legia Waszawa in 2013/14.
• Runners-up to Inter in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup, Lazio were undefeated at home in Europe last season (W4 D2) and have won nine of their last 13 continental fixtures in Rome (D2 L1).
• Domestic runners-up in league and cup last season, Apollon's sixth successive season in the UEFA Europa League kicked off in the first qualifying round, where they got the better of Lithuania's Stumbras before ousting Željezničar of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dinamo Brest of Belarus and, on away goals in the play-offs, Basel.
• Apollon have been in three previous UEFA Europa League group campaigns – a fourth is a record for a Cypriot club – but have never progressed beyond this stage, finishing third in their section in 2013/14 and fourth in both 2014/15 and 2017/18. Their record in the group stage is W2 D4 L12.
• The Limassol club have won only one of their last six European away fixtures, losing the other five, although they did draw their first away fixture of last season's group stage at English Premier League side Everton (2-2).
Links and trivia
• Apollon are one of four clubs who have reached this season's group stage after starting their campaign in the first qualifying round; the others are FC København, Rangers and Sarpsborg.
• Lazio are one of ten clubs in the 2018/19 group stage who have lost UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League finals, the others being Anderlecht, Vidi, Salzburg, Bordeaux, Arsenal, Celtic, Sporting CP, Rangers and, on three occasions, Marseille. Of that group only Anderlecht have lifted the trophy.
• Lazio boss since April 2016, when he replaced Stefano Pioli, Simone Inzaghi represented the club as a forward between 1999 and 2010, winning the Italian double in his debut season and the Coppa Italia twice more in later years. The younger brother of fellow ex-Italian international Filippo Inzaghi, with whom he played at home-town outfit Piacenza, he began coaching Lazio's youth teams immediately after hanging up his boots. His first trophy as coach was the 2017 Italian Super Cup.
• Sofronis Avgousti has coached home-town team Apollon since December 2016, when, as caretaker, he led the club to victory in each of his first eight league matches and to a successful defence of the Cypriot Cup. He has since steered them into back-to-back UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns. Capped 11 times by Cyprus, he previously served the Limassol club in three separate spells as a goalkeeper and was also on the books of AEK Larnaca, Aris Limassol and APOEL.