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Spartak's Karpin wary of dark horses Žilina

Valeri Karpin believes MŠK Žilina could cause problems for FC Spartak Moskva while visiting coach Pavel Hapal will not let a heavy loss to Chelsea FC put him off attacking football.

Spartak's Karpin wary of dark horses Žilina
Spartak's Karpin wary of dark horses Žilina ©UEFA.com

FC Spartak Moskva coach Valeri Karpin warns that although visitors MŠK Žilina are not a big name, they could still cause his side problems in UEFA Champions League Group F. Spartak, of course, won at Olympique de Marseille on Matchday 1 while debutants Žilina lost 4-1 at home to Chelsea FC, yet the Slovakian team's coach Pavel Hapal – a former playing opponent of Karpin – is sticking by his attacking principles.

Valeri Karpin, Spartak coach
There are no small matches in the Champions League. Although Žilina are less well known than Marseille, Slovakia were in the last World Cup, unlike Russia, and recently defeated our national team – so there is another motivation for us. I have not noticed any complacency in the team but I'm trying to emphasise to the players that our opposition should not be underestimated. There are more than enough examples of a team stronger on paper or in the eyes of fans or journalists losing to a team much weaker on paper.

Naturally we have discussed their strengths and weaknesses, but I would rather not speak about individual Žilina players – they don't have a Messi, of course. They have a good tall striker, and usually tall players like that are not especially good movers, but Momodou Ceesay is a decent striker who can cause plenty of trouble for our defence. When nine or ten players are back in their penalty box, we need to play down the wings as it is almost impossible to break through the centre. Thank God our wing play has worked quite well in recent games.

Pavel Hapal, Žilina coach
We played open football against Chelsea, as we have all season, and these are our principles which we will not change against Spartak. Spartak's whole team are very strong individually but I would like to single out two players – Welliton and Alex. They complement each other and they are real stars. Their attack is their strength but their defence is their weakness and I hope my players show how to break them down.

We try to win every game and tomorrow's match against Spartak will be no exception, but we shall see how it goes. We also aimed to play our best against Chelsea but failed. I have played against Valeri Karpin before – first in Spain, when I played for Tenerife and he was with Real Sociedad. I remember him well, but doubt he remembers me. Then we met again in the UEFA Cup when I played for Sigma Olomouc and he played for Celta Vigo. We were both captains and I lost 4-1.

Team news
Nikita Bazhenov is out with a thigh injury, an ankle problem rules out Kirill Kombarov and Nikola Drinčić has overcome a fractured tibia, but will not make his competitive debut for the club he joined in January. Nicolas Pareja returned to action at the weekend having recovered from a calf problem.

The Slovakian titleholders head to Moscow with a clean bill of health, Hapal reporting no injury concerns.

Weekend results
24/09/10 Spartak 2-2 FC Amkar Perm
(Welliton 37, McGeady 77; Novaković 22, Cherenchikov 54)
Spartak extended their unbeaten run to four matches courtesy of Aiden McGeady's first goal for the side. Welliton, who hit back-to-back hat-tricks in August, has scored 16 goals in 17 Premier-Liga appearances this term.

24/09/10 Žilina 0-0 DAC 1904 Dunajská Streda
Having gone through last season without a 0-0 draw, Žilina were held to their third in five First League outings. After ten rounds of the campaign, however, they remain the only unbeaten team in the 12-strong division.

Did you know?
These clubs have never met in a competitive fixture although Spartak have previously faced Slovakian opposition. All four games came against MFK Košice in two ties spanning 26 years. At home the Russian side won 2-0 in the 1971/72 UEFA Cup first round, and drew 0-0 in the 1997/98 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. They lost both away legs 2-1.

See the match background for more information.