Rostov beat Bayern München 3-2 in their final European home game of 2016; can they kick off the new year with a round of 32 success against Sparta Praha?
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Sparta Praha will look to avoid the fate that befell Bayern München in Rostov's last European home game and avoid defeat in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie.
• The clubs are meeting for the first time, and this is Rostov's first encounter with Czech opponents.
• Sparta's 13 UEFA fixtures against Russian teams have ended W4 D5 L4 (W1 D3 L2 in Russia). In the most recent of those games they beat Krasnodar 4-0 on aggregate in last season's UEFA Europa League round of 32.
• Rostov have lost only one of their last six European home games (W2 D3 L1) – 1-0 to Atlético Madrid in this season's UEFA Champions League group stage.
• Sparta's away record in Europe this term is W1 D1 L3; they have scored just two goals in the course of those five contests.
• Rostov are making their first appearance in the spring phase of a European competition. This is the 11th game of their longest European campaign to date.
• Sparta made it to the quarter-finals last season, losing to Villarreal. They have never reached a major UEFA final but got to the last four of the 1972/73 European Cup Winners' Cup.
Links and trivia
• The journey from Prague to Rostov is around 1,800km.
• Rostov's Igor Kireev turns 25 the day after the first leg against Sparta.
• Sparta forward David Lafata can make his 50th UEFA club competition appearance in this game.
• Sparta's Bořek Dočkal tops the competition's assists rankings this season with six; he had a hand in three-quarters of his club's eight group stage goals.
• Sparta boast Russian talent in the form of Under-21 international defender Vyacheslav Karavaev. The 21-year-old started out at home-town club CSKA Moskva but has spent the bulk of his career in the Czech Republic with Dukla Praha, Jablonec and – since last summer – Sparta.
• The clubs have a couple of former players in common: Jan Holenda (Sparta 2004–10, Rostov 2012–14) and Martin Horák (Sparta 2002, Rostov 2005 and 2007).
• Suspended: none.
Misses next match if booked: Aleksandr Gatskan, Vladimir Granat (Rostov); Mario Holek, Lukáš Juliš, Václav Kadlec (Sparta).
• Ivan Daniliants took over at Rostov in September 2016 having been on the club's coaching staff since December 2014. He played in his native Turkmenistan and Moldova, and was in charge of a number of Moldovan sides – and the national team – before joining Rostov.
• Tomáš Požár was appointed Sparta coach during the winter break, with stand-in boss David Holoubek returning to his previous role as assistant coach. The 41-year-old Požar – once a defender with Sparta – had previously been the club's chief scout and sporting director.
UEFA makes new donation of €100,000 to ICRC
UEFA will mark a decade of helping Afghan landmine victims on Wednesday, when Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos presents a cheque for €100,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
"I would like to pay tribute to the ICRC, who have been working relentlessly to help landmine victims, many of whom are children. Their programme in Afghanistan, which has been in place for several years, shows that football can offer real hope in challenging times," said UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin.
"I am glad that UEFA can help this cause, and that the sport we love can have a positive impact on the rehabilitation process of so many people in this troubled region," he added.
The donation supports the ICRC's physical rehabilitation programme for landmine victims and other people with disabilities in Afghanistan – providing artificial limbs, physiotherapy, vocational training and access to the rehabilitation centre's football team. About a third of patients are children.
Sergio Ramos will present the donation before his side's UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match against Napoli at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid on 15 February.
"The people benefiting from the ICRC programme in Afghanistan are an inspiration to us, as they set an example of how to approach life in a positive manner despite the problems that they face," the Real Madrid captain said.
Sergio Ramos was chosen to hand over the cheque after receiving the most votes in UEFA.com's Team of the Year, which was published in January, and added that it is "a privilege" to be "a source of motivation" to so many people.
"They don't stop dreaming, and they fight to make their dreams come true. As key figures in this sport, it's a true privilege for us footballers to be a source of motivation in their day-to-day lives, and to help them out," he said.
Over the course of a partnership lasting almost 20 years, UEFA has donated in excess of €3.5m to the ICRC to help disadvantaged people around the globe. Meanwhile, over 7 million votes were cast in selecting the UEFA.com users' Team of the Year 2016. More information on the award is available online at en.toty.uefa.com.