FC St Gallen have a daunting task as they take on FC Kuban Krasnodar in their Group A opener, with the Russian debutants building up a head of steam in the UEFA Europa League.
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FC St Gallen have a daunting task as they take on Djibril Cissé-powered FC Kuban Krasnodar in their Group A opener, with the Russian debutants having built up a head of steam in the UEFA Europa League.
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition – no surprise given that this is Kuban's first season in Europe.
• St Gallen have played two previous games against Russian opposition, eliminating FC Spartak Moskva in this season's UEFA Europa League play-offs, following up a 1-1 draw in Switzerland with a shock 4-2 win in Moscow. They are thus taking on a Russian side for a third successive European fixture.
• Back in Europe for the first time since bowing out on penalties to FC Dacia Chisinau in the second round of the 2007 UEFA Intertoto Cup, St Gallen are without a win in three home games (two 1-1 draws and a 1-0 defeat) since a 5-1 defeat of B68 Toftir in the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup.
• St Gallen last played in this competition when they were eliminated in the second round of the 2001/02 UEFA Cup by SC Freiburg.
• Kuban's first European season is going well so far: they have won all four of their games since entering the competition in the third qualifying round, eliminating Motherwell FC and then Feyenoord.
• Kuban have conceded once in their four European games this season, and have scored twice in both of their previous UEFA Europa League away matches.
• Kuban striker Djibril Cissé is yet to score in two trips to Switzerland, a friendly with France in August 2003 and, two months later, playing for AJ Auxerre in a UEFA Cup game at Neuchâtel Xamax FC. On both occasions his side won without conceding a goal.
• St Gallen coach Jeff Saibene is the first Luxembourger to lead a club in a major UEFA club group stage. Having moved abroad as a teenager to sign for R. Standard de Liège, the midfielder left three years later for Switzerland, where he spent much of his career. After coaching spells at FC Thun and FC Aarau, he joined St Gallen in March 2011, leading them back to the top division in his first full season and to third place in his second.
• Kuban coach since August 2013, Dorinel Munteanu was capped a record 134 times for Romania and won titles with FC Dinamo Bucureşti and FC Steaua Bucureşti. He spent the best years of his playing career as a midfielder in Belgium and Germany. As a coach, he led FC Oţelul Galaţi to a shock Romanian title success in 2010/11 and then guided them into the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage.