UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Sion v Rubin background

Sion fans may recall their only previous meeting with Russian opponents as they welcome Rubin Kazan in their opening UEFA Europa League Group B game.

Gennaro Gattuso featured in the last Sion side to qualify for Europe
Gennaro Gattuso featured in the last Sion side to qualify for Europe ©Getty Images

FC Sion are making their UEFA Europa League group stage debut on matchday one, with experienced continental campaigners FC Rubin Kazan their first Group B guests.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time and this is Rubin's first experience of Swiss opposition.

• Sion's only encounter with Russian opponents came in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup first round. They lost 1-0 at home against FC Spartak Moskva then drew the return leg 2-2 in Moscow. However, the game was replayed after it was discovered that the goalposts were not the regulation height. Spartak won that match 5-1.

Form guide 
• Sion have not competed in Europe since 2011/12 when they were ejected from the UEFA Europa League play-offs for fielding ineligible players in a tie against Celtic FC.

• Rubin are unbeaten in nine European away games (W6 D3) since losing 3-1 at Chelsea FC in a 2013 UEFA Europa League quarter-final.

• Sion are featuring in the group stage of a major UEFA competition for the first time.

• Rubin successfully navigated their way through to the round of 32 in all three of their previous UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.

Trivia and links
• The journey from Kazan to Sion is over 3,000km.

• Sion's Latvian goalkeeper Andrijs Vaņins has some Russian experience, having played for FC Moskva from 2003-05 – though he was unable to break into the first team. Vaņins and Rubin defender Oleg Kuzmin were teammates at Moskva.

• Sion left-back Reto Ziegler spent autumn 2012 on loan at FC Lokomotiv Moskva who also had Rubin's Magomed Ozdoev in their ranks

• Sion striker Moussa Konaté also played in Russia with FC Krasnodar from 2002-14; he and Rubin's Sergei Kislyak were team-mates at Krasnodar for the first half of the 2012/13 season.

The coaches
• A UEFA Cup finalist with FC Girondins de Bordeaux, French striker Didier Tholot ended his playing career as player-coach at Sion, and took charge of the club for a third time in 2014. He led Sion to Swiss Cup success in 2009 in his second spell, and won that trophy again last season.

• Valeri Chaly spent most of his playing career in the Soviet lower leagues with Chayka Sevastopol (formerly known as Atlantika Sevastopol). He started coaching in beach football and futsal, but in 2011 came back to football to take helm of Moldova's FC Iskra-Stal. After a short spell with Sevastopol reserves he joined Rubin Kazan and was appointed interim coach after Rinat Bilyaletdinov's dismissal in September 2015.