Two former finalists
AS Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen have both appeared once in the final of the UEFA Champions League. In 2001-2002, Bayer wend down against Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid (1-2). Dimitar Berbatov played in that game. Two years later, it was AS Monaco's turn to reach the final, where they also finished runners-up (0-3).
Champions League previous
Tuesday's meeting won't be the first between the two teams in the UEFA Champions League. Back in 1997-1998, AS Monaco and Bayer met in the group stage. Like this year, the first game took place at the Stade Louis-II, on 1st October 1997, with the Red & Whites running out comfortable 4-0 winners. With two goals and two assists for Victor Ikpeba, Thierry Henry was man of the match for the Monegasques. In the return fixture, AS Monaco earned a creditable draw in Germany.
Two new coaches
AS Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim and Bayer's Roger Schmidt were both appointed during the close season (arriving from Sporting Lisbon and Red Bull Salzburg respectively). But that's not all. Neither man had a professional playing career before going into coaching. AS Monaco's Portuguese boss had a brilliant academic career in physical education, before becoming a professional coach in 2001 at the age of 27 ans. His German counterpart is a mechanical engineering graduate, but at the age of 40 decided to change career paths, resigning from his job as an engineer to take a seat in the dugout!
This will be AS Monaco's fifth appearance in the UEFA Champions League group stage, and they have only lost one of their last 18 home games in European competition. For Bayer, this is the ninth time they've reached the group stage. The German side have enjoyed fairly limited success on their travels in the tournament, with just one away win against French clubs (as well as 2 draws and 3 defeats). That win came in 2001 (against OL). More recently, Bayer have only won one of their last 16 away fixtures in the Champions League.
Dimitar Berbatov played for Bayer from 2001 to 2006 (scoring 68 goals in 154 Bundesliga apparances), and is the only man in either squad to have played for both clubs. Meanwhile, Danijel Subasic will be coming up against his countryman Dario Kresic, who recently won his first international cap for Croatia. Of the visiting contingent, Emir Spahic is no doubt the most familiar with French football and AS Monaco, having played for Montpellier between 2009 and 2011.
Paradoxically, 16 Bayer Leverkusen players have already featured in the UEFA Champions League compared with just 6 for AS Monaco. Yet when it comes to the total number of "UCL" matches played, AS Monaco's squad has clocked up plenty more with the likes of Ricardo Carvalho (80 matches), Dimitar Berbatov (52), Jérémy Toulalan (42) and Joao Moutinho (34). Altogether, the Red & Whites boast a total 219 UEFA Champions League appearances, with 160 for Bayer.