FC Sheriff welcome a notable former player back to Moldova in UEFA Europa League Group K, with a radically altered FC Anji Makhachkala ready for a second assault on the competition.
• Sheriff and Anji are meeting for the first time in what is Anji's first game against a Moldovan side.
• Sheriff's only previous encounter with a club from Russia came in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round when they took on FC Spartak Moskva, drawing 1-1 in Tiraspol and then 0-0 in Russia to lose the tie on away goals.
• Sheriff competed in the 2009/10 and 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stages, missing out on the final cut on both occasions having collected five points each time.
• A 2-1 win against FK Vojvodina in this season's play-offs ended Sheriff's four-game wait for a European home victory, that run taking in a draw and three defeats.
• Anji made it through the UEFA Europa League group stage at the first attempt under Guus Hiddink last season, losing out to Newcastle United FC in the round of 16.
• Anji have not won in five European away fixtures (D2 L3) since a spectacular 5-0 victory against AZ Alkmaar in last season's UEFA Europa League play-offs.
• Anji boast Moldovan talent in the form of national team captain Alexandru Epureanu, who recently joined from FC Dinamo Moskva. The 26-year-old won three Moldovan titles and a domestic cup with Sheriff between 2004 and 2007, when he left for FC Moskva.
• Epureanu also played alongside Sheriff coach Veaceslav Rusnac at FC Zimbru Chisinau between 2002 and 2004.
• Sheriff are one of nine domestic champions involved in this season's group stage along with NK Maribor (Slovenia), Maccabi Tel-Aviv (Israel), PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria), Legia Warszawa (Poland), FC Shakhter Karagandy (Kazakhstan), APOEL FC (Cyprus), GNK Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) and IF Elfsborg (Sweden).
• Assisted by Juan Ferrando, Cesc Fàbregas's personal trainer at Arsenal FC, Sheriff coach Veaceslav Rusnac was a defender for a number of clubs. He achieved an unusual first in 2000 when he won the Moldovan league with FC Zimbru Chisinau, the local futsal crown with FC Zarea Balti and the top prize in Moldovan beach football with Palestra. As a coach, he led Moldova's Under-17s, taking charge at Sheriff in July 2013 after spells with several other local sides.
• A major footballing figure in his native Dagestan, Gadzhi Gadzhiev returned for a fourth spell as Anji coach in the summer of 2013 with the club adopting a new approach following the departure of Dutchman Guus Hiddink. A player for FC Spartak Leningrad, he has coached in Azerbaijan and Japan, and worked as assistant to Anatoliy Byshovets during his spells in charge of the USSR/CIS and Russia, embarking on the first of his adventures with Anji in 1999.
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