Bayer Leverkusen are looking for a second Group A win as they host an AEK Larnaca side beaten in their first game.
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Bayer Leverkusen kicked off their UEFA Europa League Group A campaign with a memorable 3-2 comeback win at Ludogorets, highlighted by two Kai Havertz goals, and will hope to double their points tally as they entertain an AEK Larnaca side that lost 0-1 at home to FC Zürich on matchday one.
• This is the first time Leverkusen have hosted Cypriot visitors, their only previous match against a team from the island having been in the 1995 UEFA Intertoto Cup when they won 2-0 away to Nea Salamis Famagusta.
• AEK's only previous visit to Germany came on their debut in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League, in 2011/12, when they gained a creditable 0-0 draw at Schalke – albeit after a record 0-5 home defeat to the same opponents a fortnight earlier.
• Leverkusen booked direct access to the UEFA Europa League group stage by finishing fifth in last season's Bundesliga.
• This is the Rhinelanders' third UEFA Europa League group stage participation, the previous two, in 2010/11 and 2012/13, having both extended into the knockout phase. The club's two UEFA Cup group stage campaigns, in 2006/07 and 2007/08, were also successful, both ending in the quarter-finals.
• The Werkself have drawn five of their last seven European home games (W1 L1), the defeat coming in the most recent – 2-4 against Atlético Madrid in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League round of 16. They have not lost any of their six home games in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W4 D2), conceding just once – to Atlético in a 1-1 draw in 2010/11.
• 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 that 0-0 draw at Schalke. They finished bottom of a section also comprising Steaua Bucureşti and Maccabi Haifa, registering five points.
• The club's matchday one defeat against Zürich ended a seven-match unbeaten run in Europe (W4 D3). Their record away from home in this season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase was W1 D2 with just one goal conceded.
Links and trivia
• Leverkusen's Finland internationals Lukas Hradecky and Joel Pohjanpalo met AEK's Ivan Tričkovski (FYR Macedonia) in an international friendly in March this year; the game in Turkey ended goalless.
• Tričkovski's tally of six goals in this season's UEFA Europa League qualifying phase was bettered by only two players – Aedeleke Akinyemi of Ventspils and Eirik Hestad of Molde, who both scored seven.
• Havertz's two goals for Leverkusen at Ludogorets on matchday one were the 19-year-old German international's first in European club competition.
• AEK are one of two Cypriot teams in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage – alongside Apollon Limassol. It is only the second time that this has happened, the previous occasion being in 2013/14 when Apollon were joined by APOEL. There has been at least one Cypriot team in the competition's group stage in each of the past eight campaigns.
• A former German international striker, Heiko Herrlich began his professional playing career at Leverkusen, with whom he won the German Cup, before going on to star for Borussia Mönchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund, winning the UEFA Champions League with the latter in 1997. He took over as Leverkusen coach in June 2017 following spells with German youth selections and in lower-league football and led the Rhinelanders to a fifth-place Bundesliga finish in his debut campaign.
• 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.