Spartak Moscow - Benfica Preview: Muscovites must make the most of home advantage to kick-start their campaign
Both the Red-Whites and the Eagles will look for points here knowing that with Barcelona in Group G, realistically, there is only one other qualification spot up for grabs
By Gregor MacGregor
Makeev, Bryzgalov, Suchy, Kombarov
Jurado, Ari, Bil'yov
Pereira, Jardel, Garay, Melgarejo
Salvio, Matic, Martins
Following their narrow 2-1 loss to Anzhi Makhachkala at the weekend, Spartak coach Unai Emery must decide whether to give on-loan attacking midfielder Jurado a starting place in the team. The youngster's creativity may be needed with Spartak playing at home, and the desperate need for points, especially given that Aiden McGeady is still injured.
The rest of the line-up will most likely be similar to the side that played on Saturday, with Rafael Carioca retaining his place in the team as Romulo is out for the long term, and Dmitri Kombarov likely to drop back to left-back. Sergei Parshivlyuk and Soslan Gatagov are still missing with knee injuries.
However, Juan Insaurralde serves a one-game ban following his red card on Matchday 2, meaning that 19-year-old starlet Sergey Bryzgalov will most likely take his place.
The visitors have almost a fully fit squad to choose from. With Luisao not playing due to his continuing ban, Jardel will continue at the back with Ezequiel Garay. In midfield Nemanja Matic will supply the robustness as Aimar, Gaitan and Carlos Martins try to provide the ammunition for Oscar Cardozo to fire home.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Spartak Moscow lost their third successive league game when losing to Anzhi on Saturday - their worst run since November 2009.
- Spartak's home record in the Champions League against teams from Portugal is W1 D2 L1.
- So far the Spartachi are without a point in Group G after two 3-2 defeats: away against Barcelona and at home to Celtic, as Spartak conceded a 2-1 lead in both games.
- Benfica have the unenvious record of being the team to have committed the most fouls so far in this season's Champions League: 43 offences.
- The Eagles have scored 348 goals in total in the European Cup.
- Key Benfica defender Luisao (pictured) is banned from all competitions until November 14 after attacking a referee in a pre-season friendly against Fortuna Dusseldorf in the summer.
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Top 3 Predictions
Spartak 1-2 Benfica
- 23.97 %
Spartak 1-1 Benfica
- 13.36 %
Spartak 2-1 Benfica
- 11.99 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Nov 7, 2012||Benfica 2 - Spartak 0|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 23, 2012||Spartak 2 - Benfica 1|
|Mar 8, 2014||Terek 1 - Spartak 0||RUS1|
|Dec 7, 2013||Rostov 1 - Spartak 0||RUS1|
|Dec 1, 2013||Spartak 6 - Volga Nizhny Novgorod 1||RUS1|
|Nov 23, 2013||PFC CSKA Moskva 1 - Spartak 0||RUS1|
|Nov 10, 2013||Spartak 4 - Zenit Saint Petersburg 2||RUS1|
|33||Jardel Nivaldo Vieira||Defender|
|35||Enzo Nicolás Pérez||Midfielder|
|20||Osvaldo Nicolás Fabián Gaitán||Midfielder|
Although the Brazilian set up Diniyar Bilyaletdinov on Saturday for Spartak's only goal against Anzhi Makhachkala, he has yet to score this season. The 25-year-old frontman is due a goal, therefore, and it could arrive on Tuesday evening as Spartachi look to save themselves from early elimination in this season's competition.
|Osvaldo Nicolás Fabián Gaitán|
Nicolas Gaitan could be the man to virtually end Spartak's participation in the 2012-13 Champions League, if the attacking midfielder is able to find his best form. Should he click into gear, then, his creativity and wing-play could set up good chances for whoever leads Benfica's line, whether Oscar Cardozo, Lima or Rodrigo.
With Spartak Moscow in the middle of some poor form in both the Russian Premier League and the Champions League, Benfica will fancy their chances of taking something from the game. The long-term injuries to several key players for the Red-Whites compounds things for Unai Emery's men. Although the Russians seem able to score against any opposition, they also concede a fair few too. Benfica are good enough to score more than once, and a score draw could be on the cards here.