Spartak Moskva will be looking for another home win as Rapid Wien come to Russia with all to play for.
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Having come from behind three times to win a seven-goal thriller at home to Rangers on matchday four, Spartak Moskva will hope for further success in the Russian capital under new coach Oleg Kononov as they take on Rapid Wien. The Austrian side are bottom of Group G but just one point behind their hosts and boast an undefeated record in Russia.
• That win against Rangers was Spartak's first of the group, coming after two successive draws, the first another high-scoring affair at home against Villarreal (3-3). Having established a superior head-to-head record over Rangers – the first game at Ibrox ended 0-0 – Spartak will be through to the round of 32 if they beat Rapid and their Scottish rivals lose at home to Villarreal.
• Rapid's two previous away fixtures in the group brought defeats at Rangers (1-3) and Villarreal (0-5), and although they held the Spanish club to a goalless draw in Vienna last time out, a defeat in Moscow will end their hopes of reaching the knockout phase.
• Rapid defeated Spartak 2-0 at home on matchday one to become the group's early front-runners. The only previous tie between the clubs occurred back in 1966, when Rapid also got the better of their Moscow opponents, winning 2-1 on aggregate in the second round of the European Cup Winners' Cup (1-1 away, 1-0 home).
• Spartak are unbeaten in three home fixtures against Austrian clubs (W1 D2) but this is the first time they have hosted a team from that country in 20 years. The last fixture, against Sturm Graz in the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League group stage, ended goalless.
• Rapid have lost only once in 15 matches against Russian opposition (W8 D6) and have never been defeated in Russia (W3 D4). Indeed, they have not conceded a goal on any of their last four visits, three of which brought victory. Their record in Moscow is W2 D2.
• 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 ended in 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 before 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.
• Alongside the recent success against Rangers, a 5-1 win against Sevilla in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage is Spartak's only other victory in their last ten 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 prior to matchday four was 3-0 against Ajax in the 2010/11 round of 16.
• 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 is their seventh appearance – only fellow Austrians Salzburg have been involved in more. On just one occasion, however, have the Vienna outfit reached the round of 32 – in 2015/16, when they were eliminated after a record 10-0 aggregate defeat by Valencia.
• Rapid have won only one of their last 11 European away fixtures, losing eight including all four this term. Their away record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W3 D3 L14, two of those wins having come in that successful 2015/16 campaign.
Links and trivia
• Spartak's Marko Petković and Rapid's Andrija Pavlović are both Serbian internationals.
• Rapid's 5-0 defeat at Villarreal on matchday three meant that they usurped Athletic Club as the team with the most defeats in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final (22).
• Following the dismissal of Massimo Carrera on 22 October, and a spell under his assistant Raúl Riancho, Spartak announced on 12 November the appointment of 52-year-old Oleg Kononov as their new head coach. He arrived from Arsenal Tula, where he had only been operating since the start of the season following a similarly short spell at Akhmat Grozny. A former midfielder, he spent the bulk of his playing career in Belarus. His first senior coaching job was in Ukraine with Karpaty Lviv but it was during a progressive spell at FC Krasnodar, from 2013–16, that he established his reputation in Russia
• Dietmar Kühbauer was named as the new head coach of Rapid on 1 October, replacing Goran Djuricin, who was dismissed two days earlier after a 0-2 home defeat to a St Pölten side led by Kühbauer. A Rapid legend as a player, midfielder 'Didi' won the Austrian Bundesliga title in 1995/96, the same season in which he helped the club reach the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final. Capped 55 times by Austria between 1992 and 2005, his coaching career came to a halt in November 2015 after spells with Admira and Wolfsberg, before resuming in April 2018 at St Pölten.