The first leg is at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca tonight (5pm UK time) with the return at the Lane next Thursday, August 28 (7.45pm). The winners go through to the group stage of the competition.
Six-times Cypriot champions, AEL were runners-up last year and began this season’s European campaign in the third qualifying round of the Champions League. They beat Zenit at home before a 3-0 loss in Russia.
“We watched both games and AEL are a good team, a dangerous team, always in Europe and we have full respect for them,” said Mauricio, ahead of his first European tie as Head Coach.
“It was difficult for Zenit to progress in the Champions League. It’s a tough game in special conditions, 30 degrees heat, it’s difficult for us but we are ready to compete.
“It’s special, the Europa League and we know if you win you have the possibility to play in the Champions League, but it’s important to go step by step and to focus on AEL because every game is tough.”
Below: Mauricio speaks to Spurs TV - full interview here...