Aris v City: Stat attack
- Tue 15 Feb 2011, 6:52AM
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
When the Blues visit Thessaloniki tonight, it will be the first time City have ever faced Greek opposition competitively.
Aris FC have qualified for Europe on many occasions over the last 40 years, but they have never lost at the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium in European competition, a record any club of any stature would envy.
It all started against English opposition in 1970, when Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Aris in the European Cup-Winner’s Cup before thrashing them in the second leg. They went to win that now-defunct competition (last won in 1999 by a Sven-Goran Eriksson-managed Lazio side that included Roberto Mancini), so let’s hope City can similarly despatch their Greek opponents and meet with the same kind of success.
Bobby Robson’s outstanding Ipswich Town side of the early 1980s tasted defeat in Thessaloniki, but that 3-1 loss was overturned to the tune of 5-1 at Portman Road. From there they didn’t look back, going on to win the UEFA Cup that season.
Aris have been as solid as ever on home turf this season, and have only conceded two goals, both in the 2-2 draw with Jagiellonia Bialystok back in July.
They entered the Europa League at the third qualifying round stage, one ahead of City, and they lost twice during their Group B campaign, to Rosenburg and Bayer Leverkusen. Their excellent home record, with no-one able to breach their defences on their own patch, helped them qualify for the knock-out stages in second place behind the German outfit.
City may never have come up against a Greek side, but the boss has and he boasts a decent record against them. His record as a player was W2 D2 L0, and he opened his European scoring account against Larissa. A goal against Panathanikos also helped Sampdoria down the road to the 1992 European Cup final.