There is little to separate the four Group G teams as Spartak Moskva welcome Rangers to Russia.
Article top media content
There is congestion in the UEFA Europa League Group G standings at the halfway point with just three points separating the four teams. No major issues can be resolved on matchday four but after holding Rangers to a 0-0 draw in Glasgow, Spartak Moskva will be eager to move alongside them in the table by securing a first win and in the process ending their visitors' unbeaten record in Europe under new manager Steven Gerrard.
• The Ibrox club began the group stage with a 2-2 draw at Villarreal and a 3-1 win against Rapid Wien in Glasgow. Spartak, meanwhile, were defeated 2-0 in Vienna on opening night and conceded a penalty deep into added time to draw 3-3 at home to Villarreal
• There had been no UEFA competition matches between the clubs until matchday three.
• Rangers have a positive record against Russian opponents, and have won four of their six away fixtures, losing just once – although two of those victories came outside Russia, in neutral Bochum and Warsaw. The only draw came earlier this season, when they held FC Ufa 1-1 in the UEFA Europa League play-offs to secure a 2-1 aggregate success. They have played in two European finals against Russian clubs, beating Dinamo Moskva in the 1972 European Cup Winners' Cup but losing to Zenit in the 2008 UEFA Cup.
• Spartak's four games against Scottish opposition before this season had all been against Rangers' arch-rivals Celtic and they failed to win any of them (D2 L2), notably losing 2-3 at home in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage.
• Spartak were unable to defend their Russian Premier League title in 2017/18, finishing third behind Moscow rivals Lokomotiv and CSKA. Their only European qualifying tie this season brought defeat – 2-3 on aggregate against 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.
• A 5-1 win against Sevilla in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage is Spartak's only victory in their last nine European home matches (D4 L4). In the UEFA Europa League, qualifying included, they had lost five successive matches in Moscow until that matchday two draw against Villarreal. Their last home win in the competition was a 3-0 victory against Ajax in the 2010/11 round of 16.
• Rangers qualified for 2018/19 European competition with a third-placed finish in last season's Scottish Premiership. They are one of four teams to have reached this group stage after beginning their UEFA Europa League journey in the first qualifying round, knocking out Shkupi, Osijek, Maribor and, in the play-offs, Ufa – all without losing a match.
• This is the Gers' debut appearance in a UEFA Europa League group stage, although they reached the last 16 in 2010/11 after crossing over in mid-campaign from the UEFA Champions League.
• Defeated unexpectedly by Progrès Niedercorn of Luxembourg in last season's UEFA Europa League first qualifying round on their return to Europe after a six-year wait, Rangers have drawn 12 of their last 18 continental fixtures outside Scotland but won only one – 1-0 at Osijek in this season’s second qualifying round.
Links and trivia
• Rangers are one of ten clubs in the 2018/19 group stage who have lost UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League finals, the others being Anderlecht, Vidi, Salzburg, Bordeaux, Lazio, Arsenal, Celtic, Sporting CP and, on three occasions, Marseille. Of that group only Anderlecht have lifted the trophy.
• Rangers manager Steven Gerrard played twice for England against Russia in UEFA EURO 2008 qualifiers, winning 3-0 at Wembley but captaining the team to a 2-1 defeat in Moscow that contributed to the Three Lions' qualifying failure.
• Following the dismissal of Spartak head coach Massimo Carrera on 22 October, his assistant Raúl Riancho has been placed in temporary charge. The 58-year-old Spaniard previously worked on the coaching staff of both Dynamo Kyiv and the Ukrainian national side, having earlier spent five years as a fitness coach in Russia with Rubin Kazan. He has never previously served as a head coach or manager.
• A Liverpool great with 186 goals in 710 appearances for the Anfield club, most of them as captain, Steven Gerrard launched his managerial career at Glasgow giants Rangers in May 2018. An England international for 14 years, accumulating 114 caps and 21 goals, the dynamic midfielder won the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League with Liverpool. After an 18-month end-of-career spell with LA Galaxy he returned to coach Liverpool's youth team before the job at Ibrox lured him to Scotland.