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Olympiacos v Rijeka: play-off facts and stats

Thursday, August 10th, 2017 at 8:00 am , filed under Champions League, News by

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Olympiacos FC will be determined to avoid UEFA Champions League qualifying disappointment for a second successive season when they take on HNK Rijeka in the play-offs.

Previous meetings
• The first leg represents the clubs’ first meeting in UEFA competition.

• Olympiacos have played six previous matches against Croatian opposition. They beat GNK Dinamo Zagreb 3-1 at home in the 1977/78 UEFA Cup first round first leg only to lose the return 5-1, but they have enjoyed better fortune in UEFA Champions League group games against the same opponents.

• The Greek club overcame Dinamo 2-0 at home in the 1998/99 group stage, drawing 1-1 away, and recorded away (1-0) and home (2-1) wins against the Zagreb outfit in 2015/16.

• Rijeka have never played a Greek team before.

Match background
• Olympiacos qualified with a 5-3 aggregate victory against FK Partizan in the third qualifying round (3-1 away, 2-2 home).

• Olympiacos lost to Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC in last season’s third qualifying round – the first time they had missed out on the UEFA Champions League group stage since 2010/11.

• In 2016/17, the Greek side went on to reach the UEFA Europa League round of 16, going down 5-2 on aggregate to Beşiktaş JK.

• Olympiacos are aiming to reach the group stage for the 18th time.

• The Piraeus outfit qualified by winning their 44th Greek league title in 2016/17 – their seventh in a row.

• Olympiacos have won just one of their last six European home matches, drawing the last four.

• Rijeka reached the play-offs by beating Welsh champions The New Saints FC 7-1 on aggregate in the second qualifying round (2-0 home, 5-1 away) before ousting FC Salzburg on away goals (1-1 away, 0-0 home).

• This is only Rijeka’s second UEFA Champions League campaign; in their first, in 1999/2000, they crashed out 6-1 on aggregate against Partizan in the second qualifying round, their first-ever tie.

• Rijeka’s 2016/17 European season lasted just one tie, as they succumbed on away goals to Turkey’s İstanbul Başakşehir in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round (0-0 away, 2-2 home).

• This is Rijeka’s fifth consecutive season in Europe, with their most successful campaigns in that run coming in 2013/14 and 2014/15, when they contested the UEFA Europa League group stage.

• The Adriatic club claimed their first Croatian league championship in 2016/17.

• Rijeka are unbeaten in seven European games (W2 D5), home and away, since a 3-0 reverse at home to Aberdeen FC in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League second qualifying round.

Team and coach links
• Born in Osijek, in eastern Croatia, Olympiacos defender Hrvoje Milić started his career with HNK Hajduk Split, returning there for a second spell in August 2015. He moved to Greece this summer after a season with ACF Fiorentina.

• Milić played alongside Rijeka’s Andrej Prskalo at NK Istra 1961 for two seasons (2011/12, 2012/13).

Coach profiles
• Previously assistant coach, Besnik Hasi assumed sole command at RSC Anderlecht in March 2014. Capped 47 times by Albania, Hasi guided the Purple-and-Whites to the Belgian title two months later. He moved to Legia Warszawa in June 2016 but was dismissed that September. Olympiacos tempted him back into coaching this summer.

• Hired in February 2013, Rijeka coach Matjaž Kek led his native Slovenia to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Kek had started and finished his playing career as a defender at NK Maribor – where his father and son also played – either side of a long stint in Austria. He returned home to Maribor for his first coaching roles before a sojourn in Saudi Arabia with al-Ittihad. Under his stewardship, Rijeka landed the Croatian double last term.

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