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PAOK and Rubin look to take final step

PAOK FC will look to hold on to first place in UEFA Europa League Group A as FC Rubin Kazan come to Greece eager to dispel Tottenham Hotspur FC's slim hopes of a round of 32 place.

PAOK celebrate their matchday five win at Tottenham
PAOK celebrate their matchday five win at Tottenham ©Getty Images

FC Rubin Kazan must hope that their nerve holds as they visit Group A leaders PAOK FC looking to join the Greek side in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

• Rubin are three points clear of third-placed Tottenham Hotspur FC with an identical head-to-head record but a superior goal difference (+6 to Tottenham's +1). A win would mean Rubin finish top of the section while they would go through in second place with a draw. Even a defeat could be enough provided Tottenham do not win at Shamrock Rovers FC by a margin large enough to turn over Rubin's goal-difference advantage.

Previous meetings
• PAOK earned a share of the points when the sides met for the first time on matchday two, Giorgios Fotakis scoring a late equaliser (81) after goals from Bebras Natcho (52) and Vladimir Dyadyun (66) had cancelled out Stefanos Athanasiadis' 23rd-minute opener.

• PAOK's only previous games against Russian sides came against PFC CSKA Moskva in last season's round of 32; they lost 2-1 on aggregate, going down 1-0 at home and drawing 1-1 in Moscow.

• Rubin also met Greek opposition for the only previous time last season when they came up against Panathinaikos FC in the UEFA Champions League group stage, sharing two 0-0 draws.

Match background
• Rubin's 3-0 win at Shamrock Rovers on matchday one was their biggest away victory in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League and matched their previous European best on their travels, a 3-0 victory at Zalaegerszegi TE in the 2007 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

• Five of Rubin's ten group stage goals have been scored in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

• PAOK are unbeaten in four home games in Europe this season (three wins and a draw), and have conceded just once at the Stadio Toumba. They are unbeaten in six UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group stage home games since a 2-1 loss to VfB Stuttgart on 24 November 2005.

• Rubin have been alternating wins and defeats in their four European away games this season, and if that pattern is to continue they are due a victory in Salonika.

Team facts
• PAOK have conceded 99 goals in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League; this is their 86th game.

• Capped 108 times by Romania as a midfielder, PAOK coach László Bölöni has been involved with four other clubs in this season's UEFA Europa League group stage; he played for FC Steaua Bucureşti (1984-87) and coached Sporting Clube de Portugal (2001-03), Stade Rennais FC (2003-06) and R. Standard de Liège (2008-10).

• Kurban Berdyev has been coach of Rubin since 2001, leading them to Russian titles in 2008 and 2009. Rubin captain Roman Sharonov once said of his serious-minded trainer: "He has football in his mind 24 hours a day. If I thought about football that much I would probably lose my mind."

• Rubin's Turkish midfielder Gökdeniz Karadeniz has come up against Greece four times with his national team with the record W1 D2 L1. He scored after coming on as a substitute in Turkey's 4-1 UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying away win on 24 March 2007.

• PAOK goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias kept a clean sheet in the return fixture on 17 October 2007 as Greece won 1-0 against a side featuring Gökdeniz in Istanbul.

• Gökdeniz came up against PAOK's president Theodoros Zagorakis and technical director Zisis Vryzas as Turkey and Greece twice drew 0-0 in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying.