A second-half collapse on matchday one has put the pressure on CSKA Moskva as they welcome Espanyol in Group H.
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A second-half collapse on matchday one has put the pressure on CSKA Moskva as they make their home debut in UEFA Europa League Group H against an Espanyol side surprisingly held at home in their opening game.
• CSKA led Ludogorets 1-0 at half-time in their first fixture thanks to 19-year-old defender Igor Diveev's first European goal, but it was one-way traffic after the interval as the Bulgarian champions recovered to win 5-1, inflicting CSKA's heaviest defeat in the UEFA Europa League or UEFA Cup. Meanwhile, Espanyol drew 1-1 against Ferencváros in Barcelona thanks to Matías Vargas's 60th-minute equaliser.
• The clubs are meeting for the first time.
• CSKA have never lost at home to Spanish visitors (W2 D3), their most memorable result coming last season when they defeated Real Madrid 1-0 on matchday two of the UEFA Champions League with an early Nikola Vlašić strike. They then completed a remarkable double over the holders with a 3-0 win at the Estadio Bernabéu.
• Espanyol's one previous trip to Russia in UEFA competition brought a 1-0 win at Lokomotiv Moskva in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage.
• CSKA finished fourth in last season's Russian Premier League, missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League, where they had been group stage participants for six straight years, but qualifying directly for a first UEFA Europa League group campaign since their only previous participation in 2010/11.
• They collected 16 points from their six group games in that 2010/11 campaign to top their section and progress to the round of 16, where they were eliminated by eventual winners Porto. Two seasons ago, having finished third in their UEFA Champions League group, the 2004/05 UEFA Cup winners made it to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by Arsenal.
• CSKA won all three of their Moscow fixtures in that 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage, but the six home matches they have played in the competition since then have yielded just one victory (D2 L3).
• Espanyol finished seventh in the 2018/19 Spanish Liga, edging out Athletic Club on the head-to-head rule to book a return to the European stage for the first time since their appearance in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup final, which they lost on penalties to Sevilla after a 2-2 draw in Glasgow.
• The Barcelona-based club, who also lost the 1987/88 UEFA Cup final on spot kicks to Bayer Leverkusen, cruised through their first two qualifying ties this term, defeating Stjarnan 7-1 on aggregate and Luzern 6-0 over the two legs before overcoming Zorya Luhansk in the play-offs (3-1 h, 2-2 a).
• Espanyol are undefeated in their last 21 European games against non-Spanish opposition, including the last ten on their travels (W6 D4). They have not lost a European match in regulation play since Schalke beat them home (2-1) and away (3-0) in the third round of the 2005/06 UEFA Cup.
Links and trivia
• Before joining Espanyol, Brazilian defender Naldo played in Russia for FC Krasnodar in 2016/17, including one match against CSKA, a 1-1 draw.
• Espanyol are one of six clubs making their debut in the UEFA Europa League group stage this term. The others are LASK, Olexandriya, Wolfsberg, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Group H rivals Ferencváros.
• Appointed by CSKA to replace long-serving coach Leonid Slutski in December 2016, Viktor Goncharenko had earned a growing reputation in Russian football, notably as Slutski's assistant. He made his name as a coach in his native Belarus at BATE Borisov, winning five straight league titles and leading the club into the UEFA Champions League group stage on three occasions. In his first full season as CSKA boss he led the Muscovites to the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals and a runners-up spot in the domestic league.
• Appointed head coach of Espanyol in June 2019 following Rubi's departure for Real Betis, David Gallego has been on the coaching staff of the Barcelona-based club since 2013, working chiefly with the youth and B teams – although he did have a fleeting spell in charge of the first team at the end of 2017/18. A native Catalan, his playing career was spent at a multitude of clubs, all but one of them – Recreativo Huelva (2002/03) – in Spain's lower leagues. He decided to hang up his boots in 2009 at the age of 37.