UEFA Europa League – FCSB-Lazio – FCSB v Lazio background
Without a win against Italian opposition in their European history, FCSB will attempt to end that jinx as they host fellow UEFA Europa League regulars Lazio in the first leg of their round of 32 tie.
• The Romanian team qualified as runners-up of Group G, behind Viktoria Plzeň, while Lazio won Group K. Both clubs ensured their passage to the knockout phase with two games to spare, FCSB having collected ten points from their first four group games while Lazio, alone among the 48 participants, claimed a maximum 12.
• There have been no previous meetings between the two clubs.
• FCSB have faced Italian opposition 13 times and never celebrated victory, failing to score in all but one of those matches (a 3-3 home draw with Napoli in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage). Their eight defeats include two in five home games and a 4-0 loss to AC Milan in the 1989 European Champion Clubs’ Cup final.
• Lazio are unbeaten in their four matches against Romanian sides, winning one and drawing three. The sole victory came on the Rome club’s only previous trip to Bucharest, in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, when they came from behind to win 3-1 against Dinamo Bucureşti and seal a 4-2 aggregate victory.
• FCSB are without a win in three European games and have lost their last two. They have won only one of their five European home games this season (D2 L2) and just three of their last 14 in UEFA competition (D5 L6).
• FCSB won their opening three games in this season’s group stage but finished two points behind Plzeň in the final standings despite a six-point advantage over the Czech side at the halfway stage.
• Lazio’s run of 27 UEFA Europa League group games without defeat (W17 D10) ended with a 3-2 loss at Zulte Waregem on matchday six. Nevertheless, they have now qualified for the knockout phase in each of their last five participations.
• That defeat in Belgium also ended the Rome club’s record-equalling run of 11 successive away fixtures without defeat (W4 D7) in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final.
• UEFA Cup semi-finalists in 2005/06, FCSB have now reached this round of the UEFA Europa League three times from seven group stage participations. On each of the previous two occasions they were paired with Dutch opposition, losing both games 1-0 to Twente in 2011/12 and then overcoming Ajax in the first ever UEFA Europa League knockout phase penalty shoot-out after two 2-0 home wins a year later.
• Lazio failed to progress from their group in the inaugural UEFA Europa League season of 2009/10, but have made it through to the round of 32 in each of their five participations since, winning two and losing two of their four ties. They were eliminated by Atlético Madrid in 2011/12 and Ludogorets Razgrad in 2013/14 but beat Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2012/13 and Galatasaray in 2015/16. They have yet to win away from home in the round of 32 (D3 L1).
• Beaten 5-1 on aggregate by Sporting CP in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, 2016/17 Romanian league runners-up FCSB share with Salzburg the record of 42 matches played in the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• UEFA Cup runners-up in 1998, and European Cup Winners’ Cup winners the following year, Lazio are competing in the UEFA Europa League after a one-season absence, having made it back thanks to a fifth-place finish in Serie A last term.
Links and trivia
• FCSB’s current head coach Nicolae Dică played for the club against Parma (2004/05) and Sampdoria (2005/06), in the UEFA Cup. He also played three games in Serie A with Catania in 2008/09.
• Romanian international Ştefan Radu has been a Lazio player since 2008. He was in the Dinamo Bucureşti team that lost 3-1 in Bucharest against Lazio in 2007 but captained the Rome club in their only other European encounter on Romanian soil – a 0-0 draw against FC Vaslui in Piatra Neamt in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Lazio’s Adam Marušić played for Montenegro against Romania in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, drawing 1-1 in Cluj-Napoca and winning 1-0 in Podgorica. FCSB defender Romario Benzar was in the Romania team for both games.
• FCSB striker Denis Alibec played two Serie A matches for Internazionale Milano in 2010/11, the second a 3-1 defeat against Lazio.
• FCSB defender Mihai Bălaşa came through the youth system at Lazio’s city rivals Roma and had loan spells at Crotone and Trapani in Serie B.
• Nicolae Dică left Argeş Piteşti to return to FCSB as coach in May 2017, having served the club as a player in two previous spells, landing two Romanian Liga I titles – and a further one with CFR Cluj. The attacking midfielder also played in Italy, Greece and Turkey and was capped 32 times by Romania, scoring nine goals. He ended his playing career in 2014 at Viitorul Constanţa.
• Lazio boss since April 2016, when he replaced Stefano Pioli, Simone Inzaghi represented the club as a forward from 1999–2010, winning the Italian double in his debut season. 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.