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Žilina aim for happy ending against Spartak

Their last UEFA Champions League home match ended in a record defeat, yet MŠK Žilina coach Paval Hapal is optimistic his side can finally get off the mark when FC Spartak Moskva visit.

Žilina aim for happy ending against Spartak
Žilina aim for happy ending against Spartak ©UEFA.com

There is only pride at stake when MŠK Žilina end their first UEFA Champions League campaign with the visit of FC Spartak Moskva, yet home coach Pavel Hapal will ensure there is plenty of that on show. Spartak will finish third in Group F regardless of the result in Slovakia, but coach Valeri Karpin still wants points to ensure his side are one of the four teams transferring from this competition who will be seeded in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 draw.

Pavel Hapal, Žilina coach
We've looked forward to every Champions League game and the same goes for this one. It's our last group match against a team of high quality. We will play to win like we always do. We've been very unlucky, we played well in Marseille and at Stamford Bridge, where we were very close to a point. Part of success is to be ready mentally for the match. After the disaster at home to Marseille [a 7-0 loss on Matchday 4], when everything went their way, we played a good match in London and therefore we are enthusiastic.

We have not played as badly as results suggest. Unfortunately we have played better in the away games, which makes me feel sorry for our fans. We have no points and we must fight to change that. We don't want to finish with six defeats. We have to play better than in Moscow, we have to play like we did at Stamford Bridge: with our hearts, souls and desire to fight for the colours of Žilina.

Valeri Karpin, Spartak coach
All in all, the number of players we have unavailable is a big blow for us. On the other hand we have players like Alex, who is ready. We are determined to end the season with a win. We want to enjoy our holidays with clear minds. Every sport is competitive. Both teams want to win, even though there's nothing to play for. However, it is a prestigious match. We also need to gain points in order to be seeded in the Europa League draw. This is our main target and our motivation.

I do not want to evaluate the whole season now, we have gone through good and bad periods, let's concentrate on Wednesday's match with Žilina and we can talk about the whole season afterwards. Žilina are not as bad a team as their results suggest. I think they would be in the top ten in Russia.

Team news
Patrik Mráz returned as a substitute on 1 December after recovering from a thigh injury, his first appearance since Matchday 2. Hapal, however, has lost Štefan Zošák and Admir Vladavič, explaining: "Zošák is suffering from a long-term foot injury; Admir Vladavič has problems with his teeth. He didn't take part in today's training session and is not ready for the game."

Sergei Parshivlyuk is out until next year with knee ligament damage while Welliton, Ari and Nicolás Pareja are also injured. Kirill Kombarov (knee) Andrei Ivanov (muscle) and Martin Stranzl (groin) are all back in training. Alex has featured just twice since 15 October because of a recurrent thigh muscle injury but, as Karpin said, is fit.

Weekend results
• Žilina beat second division Tatran NAO Liptovský Mikuláš 3-0 on 1 December to complete the lineup for the Slovak Cup semi-finals. Žilina, who have never lifted the trophy, won the away leg 1-0 on 11 November.

• Runners-up in four of the previous five seasons, Spartak finished fourth in the Premier-Liga after ending their campaign with a 1-1 draw at FC Dinamo Moskva on 28 November.

Did you know?
The Slovakian titleholders are bidding to avoid becoming the 11th team to finish a UEFA Champions League group stage without a point. They have conceded 17 goals to date; Ferencvárosi TC (1995/96), FC Dynamo Kyiv (2007/08) and Debreceni VSC (2009/10) share the group stage record for goals against with 19.

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