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Róbert Jež says MŠK Žilina are determined to bow out on a high when they face FC Spartak Moskva, with the UEFA Champions League debutants eager to pick up their first points in Group F.
In 1997/98 another Slovakian outfit, 1. FC Košice, became the first side to lose all six of their group stage matches. The same fate has since befallen nine more teams – before this term – and few would bet against Žilina adding to the list. Not though, midfielder Jež, who says Wednesday's game represents his side's "last chance to prove that we belong in the Champions League".
"We're looking forward to some deserved rest after the game," added the 29-year-old, whose side's domestic campaign is already over until the end of February. "But before that
we will be playing as if our lives depend on it. We want to go into our holidays in better mood so we can enjoy Christmas in high spirits."
Coach Pavel Hapal has spoken of his pride in the way his players are approaching a game that means little on paper – Žilina are destined to finish fourth, Spartak third. Yet no side wants an unwanted place in the history books, let alone three. Aside from the risk of failing to pick up a point, if the Slovakian titleholders concede three goals, as they did when these sides met in Russia in September, they will set a new mark of 20 goals conceded in a group stage.
Heavy defeats in Slovakia by Chelsea FC (4-1) and Olympique de Marseille (7-0) – the latter a competition record for a home game – have done much of the damage. "We have played some decent matches in this group, especially in Marseille and London," said Jež. "Unfortunately we have also suffered painful losses in Moscow and at home against Marseille, and we are still without a point." Žilina hope to put that right on Wednesday.
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