NK Dinamo Zagreb lost their last UEFA Cup Group D game 4-0 in north London, but know they could make a giant leap towards the knockout stage with a win at home against FC Spartak Moskva on Matchday 3.
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NK Dinamo Zagreb lost their last UEFA Cup Group D tie 4-0 in London, but know they could make a giant leap towards the Round of 32 with a win at home against FC Spartak Moskva on Matchday 3.
• Dinamo are playing in their first game following the return of Marijan Vlak as coach. The 53-year-old stepped up to the helm for the third time in his career on Monday after Branko Ivanković left the club by mutual consent.
• Having won their opener 3-2 against NEC Nijmegen, Ivanković's side came unstuck at Tottenham Hotspur FC last time out, but a win against Michael Laudrup's Spartak could prove crucial. Only once in the four-year history of the UEFA Cup group stage has a total of six points not been enough to qualify, with Rangers FC missing out in 2004/05.
• Spartak lost 2-1 at home to Udinese Calcio in their opening Group D fixture on Matchday 2, and would be in serious danger if they suffered a second defeat in Zagreb.
• Dinamo and Spartak have met before, though there was little to choose between them in their 1996/97 UEFA Cup qualifying round tie as the Russian side prevailed on away goals, losing 3-1 away and winning 2-0 in Moscow.
• Vadim Evseev cancelled out Zoran Slisković's opener in the first leg but goals from Igor Cvitanović and Daniel Šarić gave Otto Barić's side the advantage. However, Aleksei Meleshin and Dmitri Alenichev scored in the second leg for Oleg Romantsev's Spartak to send them through.
• The lineups for the sides' previous meeting in Zagreb on 6 August 1996 was:
Dinamo: Dražen Ladić, Danijel Štefulj, Damir Krznar, Silvio Marić (Mark Viduka, 46), Marinko Galić, Srdjan Mladinić, Josip Gašpar, Tomislav Rukavina (Edin Mujčin, 71), Dario Šimić, Igor Cvitanović, Zoran Slišković (Daniel Šarić, 59).
Spartak: Aleksandr Filimonov, Dmitri Ananko, Sergei Gorlukovich, Vadim Evseev, Ramiz Mamedov (Vladislav Duyun, 77), Konstantin Kovalenko (Vladimir Dzhoubanov, 46), Aleksei Meleshin (Andrei Konovalov, 61), Dmitri Alenichev, Egor Titov, Valeri Kechinov, Andrei Tikhonov.
• Those two games represent Dinamo's only experience of Russian opponents in UEFA club competition.
• In addition to that Dinamo tie, Spartak met their Croatian league rivals NK Kamen Ingrad in a 2004 UEFA Intertoto Cup second-round tie, winning 4-1 in Russia and 1-0 in Croatia.
• Thus they have won three of their four games against Croatian sides, with their only defeat – and one of their victories – coming away from home.
• Spartak coach Laudrup played in two games against Croatia. His Denmark side lost 3-0 to Croatia at EURO '96™, but he was among the scorers as the Danes won 3-1 in a 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Copenhagen.
• Former Dinamo coach Ivanković was on the Croatia coaching staff for that latter game as Miroslav Blažević's assistant.
• Spartak goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa will be looking forward to a trip back home. The Croatian international started his career with Dinamo's arch-rivals HNK Hajduk Split, moving on to play for FC Shakhtar Donetsk and then Spartak.
• Pletikosa and Dinamo's Bosnia-Herzegovnian left-back Mirko Hrgović were team-mates at Hajduk in 2000/01.
• Dinamo have won two of their five home games in the UEFA Cup group stage to date, drawing two and losing one.
• Spartak won their only previous European away match under Laudrup 1-0 at FC Baník Ostrava in the UEFA Cup first round.
• Spartak's Radoslav Kováč is a yellow card away from a one-match suspension.
• NEC play Tottenham in Matchday 3's other Group D tie. Udinese are the only side in the section not in action.