FC Spartak Moskva coach Valeri Karpin is hoping to make it third time lucky at the Stade Vélodrome as his side open Group F against French titleholders Olympique de Marseille.
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FC Spartak Moskva coach Valeri Karpin is hoping to make it third time lucky at the Stade Vélodrome as his side open Group F against Olympique de Marseille. Karpin's two previous appearances at the ground, for Spartak in 1991 and RC Celta de Vigo eight years later, both ended in 2-1 defeats and he knows his players will have to be at their best to avoid an unwanted hat-trick. OM counterpart Didier Deschamps is also wary, but is already mapping a route to the last 16.
Didier Deschamps, Marseille coach
Spartak have a lot of attacking strength, with Welliton in the middle and some quality wingers. They like to have the ball and know how to use it; they have more problems when they don't have possession. We want to go a long way in this competition, but for now we are focused on winning the first match.
Spartak are probably our main rivals for second place in the group. This is the most prestigious of all club competitions. We learned last year that small mistakes can cost us dearly. In theory, we have the ability to get to the last 16 at least, but there is only one truth and that is on the pitch.
Valeri Karpin, Spartak coach
I lost my first two games at Marseille so I hope it's a case of third time lucky. We have studied footage of Marseille: they are a quality side. They've not had a great start to the season but the UEFA Champions League is a different competition and they will be eager to give a good account of themselves.
As Didier Deschamps said, OM and Spartak may end up fighting for second place but as far as we're concerned we'll start by fighting for top spot. I don't know what team I will play and don't have a particular plan. We will see tomorrow.
Leyti N'Diaye missed the weekend's 2-2 Ligue 1 draw against AS Monaco FC after injuring his shoulder in training with Senegal but Souleymane Diawara (thigh) is back in training. Concerns over new signing Loïc Rémy's heart have been eased, but he sustained a groin injury during France's loss to Belarus on 3 September.
Nikola Drinčić has returned to training but is yet to make his debut having joined Spartak during the winter break after fracturing his tibia in January. Kirill Kombarov has been training separately following an ankle injury while Nikita Bazhenov did not travel to France having suffered a thigh injury in training on Sunday.
12/09/10 Marseille 2-2 AS Monaco FC
(Valbuena 42, Adriano og 80; Niculae 15, Park 79)
Making his first competitive start for OM, André-Pierre Gignac had an effort ruled out in added time as the French champions were left with five points from as many league games in 2010/11 – they had 11 at this stage last season. Gabriel Heinze was rested following his return from international duty in Argentina.
11/09/10 Spartak 2-1 FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast
(Welliton 7 74; Kirichenko 21)
Spartak have won three of their last four league games, while Welliton's double took his tally for the season to 15 in 16 matches. Andriy Dykan and Aiden McGeady made their debuts against Saturn, the latter setting up Welliton's first goal.
Did you know?
Deschamps played in OM's 6-0 defeat of Spartak's city rivals PFC CSKA Moskva in the 1992/93 group stage, their best UEFA Champions League win. The Ligue 1 side went on to lift the trophy that year, beating AC Milan 1-0 in the final.
See the match background for more information.