Spartak Moskva are one of four Russian clubs still involved in this season's competition, and continue their campaign against round of 32 regulars Athletic Club.
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One of four Russian clubs in the UEFA Europa League round of 32, Spartak Moskva are alone among that quartet in playing the first leg at home, where they entertain competition regulars and 2011/12 runners-up Athletic Club.
• Spartak have crossed over from the UEFA Champions League after finishing third in a section headed by Liverpool, while Athletic came through as winners of Group I, above Östersund on the head-to-head rule, despite failing to register a victory in any of their opening three fixtures.
• There have been no previous European competition fixtures between the two clubs.
• Spartak have faced Spanish opposition on 28 occasions with the record W8 D6 L14 (W4 D6 L4 at home). They have already taken on a Liga club this season, beating Sevilla 5-1 in Moscow on matchday three – their biggest UEFA Champions League win – before losing the return 2-1 a fortnight later in Andalusia.
• Athletic have visited Russia, and Moscow, only twice before and are yet to win in the Russian capital. Their last visit brought a 2-1 defeat to Spartak's city rivals Lokomotiv in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg – Denis Glushakov, now Spartak captain, scoring a penalty for the home side – but Athletic won the return 1-0 to progress on away goals and go on to reach the final. Iker Muniain scored both Athletic goals in the tie.
• Although Spartak's UEFA Champions League campaign ended in elimination, they were undefeated at home, drawing 1-1 against both Liverpool and Maribor in addition to that 5-1 win against Sevilla.
• The Moscow club have conceded one goal in each of their last four European home games and have not kept a clean sheet in their last 11 – since a 3-0 win against Ajax in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League round of 16.
• That 2010/11 campaign, in which they overcame Basel 4-3 on aggregate in the round of 32, is Spartak's only previous experience of the UEFA Europa League knockout phase – when they also transferred from the UEFA Champions League – but they were round of 32 participants two seasons running in the UEFA Cup, in 2006/07 and 2007/08. They lost both ties, the first to Spain's Celta Vigo (1-1 home, 1-2 away).
• Spartak's best UEFA Cup performance came in 1997/98, when they reached the semi-finals.
• Athletic are unbeaten away from home in Europe this season (W2 D3) and are on a sequence of three successive wins, home and away. Only one other club, Viktoria Plzeň, won their final three fixtures in the group stage.
• Athletic are competing in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 for the fourth successive season and the sixth time in all. They have made further progress on just two of their five previous attempts, losing 4-3 on aggregate to APOEL of Cyprus 12 months ago (3-2 home, 0-2 away). Their solitary away success at this stage of the competition came against Marseille in 2015/16, a 1-0 win at the Stade Vélodrome preceding a 1-1 draw in Bilbao.
• Spartak are the reigning Russian champions, winning the league last season for the first time in 16 years. They occupied third place at this season's winter break, trailing leaders Lokomotiv by eight points
• Seventh in Spain last term, Athletic are competing in Europe for a fourth successive season – their longest unbroken sequence since the mid-1980s. They were losing finalists in the 1976/77 UEFA Cup (to Juventus) as well as the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League (to Atlético Madrid).
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Sofiane Hanni, Igor Leontiev
Out: Georgi Dzhikiya, Artem Samsonov
In: Unai Bilbao
Out: Eneko Bóveda, Aymeric Laporte
Links and trivia
• Spartak's Croatian midfielder Mario Pašalić, on loan from Chelsea, spent 2014/15 at Spanish club Elche, appeating in a 2-1 away win and 3-2 home defeat against Athletic.
• Spartak's Fernando and Luiz Adriano started both matches for Shakhtar Donetsk against Athletic in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League group stage. A goalless draw in Bilbao was followed by a 1-0 win for Athletic in Lviv.
• Spartak's 7-0 defeat away to Liverpool on matchday six of the UEFA Champions League group stage was the club's heaviest European loss.
• This will be Athletic's 58th game in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final: only Villarreal, with 60, have played more. Athletic's all-time tally of 94 goals scored is also only bettered by Villarreal (103).
• Athletic's Raúl García was a 2009/10 UEFA Europa League winner with Atlético Madrid.
• Athletic's Aritz Aduriz top-scored in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League, with ten goals, and is the second-highest all-time scorer in the competition proper – after 30-goal Radamel Falcao – with 23. He has five goals in the current campaign and is on a scoring run of four successive matches, the best in the competition.
• Suspended for next match if booked: Fernando (Spartak).
• A former Italian defender who did not hang up his boots until he was 44, Massimo Carrera's playing career reached a zenith with Juventus in the 1990s, a series of trophy successes beginning with the 1992/93 UEFA Cup. He returned to Turin to become assistant to Antonio Conte, later serving under him for Italy before taking over at Spartak and leading them to the 2016/17 Russian title at the first attempt.
• Better known as 'Cuco', José Ángel Ziganda was a forward for Osasuna and Athletic Club who also won two caps for Spain and later guided the Pamplona side to the 2006/07 UEFA Cup semi-finals as coach. He was handed the Athletic job in May 2017, as the replacement for Barcelona-bound Ernesto Valverde, following a six-year spell as the Basque club's B team boss.