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Maribor and Spartak Moskva meet in Group E

Maribor and Spartak Moskva have never met before and both teams will be eager to hit the ground running when Group E gets under way in Slovenia.

Maribor celebrate a goal en route to qualifying for the group stage
Maribor celebrate a goal en route to qualifying for the group stage ©Fedja Krvavac

This week,  football fans watching UEFA Champions League matches in stadiums, online and on TV will witness the premiere of the new UEFA RESPECT TV ads, called #EqualGame. The adverts feature Ada Hegerberg, Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Cristiano Ronaldo and amateur players and will run throughout the season to promote inclusion, diversity and accessibility in European Football with the motto "Everyone has the right to enjoy football, no matter who you are, where you're from, or how you play."

More information on the campaign and on the advertisements can be found in the accompanying media release and on the campaign website: www.equalgame.com.

NK Maribor and FC Spartak Moskva will be keen to hit the ground running when they meet in the opening round of fixtures in Group E.

• These teams have never played each other before and, with Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC also in the section, will recognise the value of a positive start.

Match background

• The Slovenian side are in the group stage for a third time, having previously competed in 1999/2000 and 2014/15. In that latter group appearance they drew 1-1 at home to both Sporting Clube de Portugal and Chelsea FC, and lost 1-0 to FC Schalke 04.

• Maribor qualified for this season's UEFA Champions League by winning a sixth Slovenian title in seven seasons in 2016/17. In Europe last term, they beat PFC Levski Sofia and Aberdeen FC before losing to Gabala SC in the UEFA Europa League play-offs.

• Maribor reached the current group stage by overcoming HŠK Zrinjski of Bosnia and Herzegovina 3-2 on aggregate in the second qualifying round (2-1 away, 1-1 home) and Iceland's FH Hafnarfjördur in the next round (1-0 home, 1-0 away). In the play-offs they went down 2-1 at Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC in the first leg but progressed on away goals thanks to a 1-0 home success.

• Maribor are unbeaten in seven European home matches (W5 D2). In fact, they have lost only two of their last 12 games, home and away (W6 D4).

• However, Maribor have not won any of their six home games in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final (D2 L4).

• The only previous time Maribor entertained Russian visitors, they crashed 5-2 against FC Rubin Kazan in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage. The teams drew 1-1 in Russia.

• This is Spartak's 12th group stage campaign, and a first since 2012/13 when they came fourth in a section also including FC Barcelona, SL Benfica and Celtic FC. They have not graced the last 16 since 2000/01, when they reached the second group stage.

• On each of their last two group stage appearances, in 2010/11 and 2012/13, Spartak lost two home games and won the other.

• The Moscow club qualified automatically for the group stage by lifting their 22nd league title in 2016/17. Last term, their European campaign ended at the first hurdle, with defeat by AEK Larnaca FC in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.

• Spartak are without a win in their last seven European matches, home and away, since a 2-1 victory over Benfica on 23 October 2012. Their record since then is D2 L5.

• Furthermore, Spartak have not won away since a 1-0 success at AFC Ajax in their 2010/11 UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg. Their record since is D4 L4.

• This is Spartak's first fixture against a Slovenian team.

Coach and player links
• Marko Šuler played all 180 minutes in the 2010 FIFA World Cup play-offs as Slovenia lost 2-1 in Russia before securing a 1-0 home success in the second leg to qualify for the finals.

Match facts

• The 2-1 first-leg loss to Beer-Sheva last month is Maribor's only defeat in their last 17 games in all competitions.

• Maribor have 18 points from eight league matches (W5 D3) this season, four more than they had at the same stage last term.

• Quincy Promes has scored seven goals in ten outings for Spartak this season, exactly half the club's total.

• Massimo Carrera's side lifted the Russian Super Cup on 14 July, defeating FC Lokomotiv Moskva 2-1 after extra time.

• Spartak have 12 points from nine league fixtures – seven fewer than they had at the same stage in 2016/17.

• The Red-Whites have conceded 13 goals in the 2017/18 Russian Premier-Liga. They did not ship as many last term until the 17th round of matches.