Rapid Wien and Spartak Moskva have not crossed paths for more than 50 years as they open Group G in Austria.
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Rapid Wien and Spartak Moskva, the record champions respectively of Austria and Russia, come face to face for the first time in over half a century as they open their UEFA Europa League Group G campaign in Vienna.
• The only previous tie between the clubs occurred back in 1966, when Rapid defeated Spartak 2-1 on aggregate in the second round of the European Cup Winners' Cup (1-1 away, 1-0 home).
• Rapid have lost only once in 14 matches against Russian opposition (W7 D6) – 0-2 at home to Rubin in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup second qualifying round; they turned the tie around with a 3-0 victory in Kazan.
• Spartak, in contrast, have a perfectly balanced record against Austrian clubs (W2 D2 L2 F4 A4), though there have been no such meetings for 20 years.
• Third place in the 2017/18 Austrian Bundesliga earned Rapid a place in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, where they overcame Slovan Bratislava 5-2 on aggregate (1-2 away, 4-0 home) before eliminating FCSB in the play-offs (3-1 home, 1-2 away).
• Although there was no European campaign for Rapid last season, they are very familiar with the UEFA Europa League group stage, this their seventh appearance – only fellow Austrians Salzburg have been involved in more. On just one occasion, however, have the Vienna side reached the round of 32 – in 2015/16, when they were eliminated after a record 10-0 aggregate defeat by Valencia.
• Rapid are unbeaten in five European home games (W3 D2) – and ten in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W6 D4) since going down 0-4 to Bayer Leverkusen on matchday three in 2012/13.
• Spartak were unable to defend their Russian Premier League title in 2017/18, finishing third behind Moscow rivals Lokomotiv and CSKA. Their only European tie this season brought defeat – 2-3 on aggregate v PAOK in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, a result that propelled them into the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• The Muscovites have played UEFA Europa League football in five previous seasons but never in the group stage. They reached the quarter-finals in 2010/11 and the round of 32 last term, when, having crossed over from the UEFA Champions League in mid-campaign, they lost 4-3 on aggregate to Athletic Club. In the other three seasons they fell at the first hurdle in the qualifying phase.
• Spartak won 2-1 in Bilbao in that round of 32 tie, but that is their only European away victory in the last 13 such fixtures (D5 L7). Among the defeats was a record 7-0 loss at Liverpool in last season's UEFA Champions League.
Links and trivia
• Rapid's Andrija Pavlović and Spartak's Marko Petković are both Serbian internationals.
• Vienna-born Goran Djuricin was a youth player with Rapid before going on to enjoy the best days of a modest playing career with city rivals Austria Wien. His first coaching appointment was back at Rapid with the Under-18s before he worked as an assistant to various Austrian national youth selections. He was handed his dream job as Rapid head coach in April 2017, a third-placed finish in the 2017/18 Austrian Bundesliga enabling him to restore European football to the club after a one-year absence.
• A former Italian defender who remained active 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. His first European foray with the club ended in the UEFA Europa League round of 32.