Spartak have been in fine form in recent weeks, as they are currently on an unbeaten run of seven games in all competitions that includes six victories. These include a surprise win over Olympique Marseille on matchday one, as well as a 3-0 result against Slovak club MSK Zilina.
Their most recent victory was against Alaniya in the league, which saw Valeri Karpin’s men register a 3-0 result at home – in a game that could have seen them score more. Despite the confident victory, the coach has warned his charges that they must take all their chances if they are to secure a positive result against Chelsea.
"We played well in defence, managed to keep our net clean, it's very good," he said. "But I'm upset that we missed too many scoring chances. We should have scored at least two more goals. Such a waste of chances in the match with Chelsea is absolutely inadmissible."
Memories of 2008...
Chelsea’s trip to Russia will probably feel like a victim returning to the scene of a crime, as it at the Luzhniki Stadium on that fateful night in 2008 that they tasted a bitter defeat in the Champions League final – to Manchester United, and on penalties, no less.
The script was perfectly written for the Blues to emerge victors, as the game was held in owner Roman Abramovich’s homeland. But defender John Terry’s miss proved very costly as United went on to lift the trophy.
Two years on, the Blues are arguably stronger and have in them a manager, Carlo Ancelotti, who has already guided them to the Premier League title last season.
"I watched the game on television," the Italian recalled, concerning the defeat in 2008. "Chelsea played at the same level as Manchester United but when you arrive at penalties, it is difficult to say who can win the game."
Now, however, the former AC Milan boss remains cautiously optimistic ahead of the game, as he said: "Our dream is to do our best in this competition. We will use all our power, our character, our personality to do our best but it is difficult to say [what will happen]. The Champions League is a strange competition."
Brazilian attacking midfielder Alex has been ruled out of this encounter, as is the case with Kirill Kombarov.
But prolific goalscorer Welliton is expected to play a part in this game, having recovered to make an appearance in a Russian Premier League game against Alaniya Vladikavkaz.In the meantime, Ari has done well to score twice against Zilina and once in the club’s most recent game, against Alaniya. He could likely lead the line alongside his fellow Brazilian forward.
Possible starting line-up: Dikan; Sheshukov, Suchy, Parshivlyuk, Pareja; McGeady, Ibson, Sabitov, Kombarov; Ari, Welliton.
Didier Drogba’s much awaited return to European football will likely have to wait a little while longer, as he is a major doubt for this game. The Ivorian is still recovering from a virus that kept him out of the recent Premier League clash with Aston Villa, and manager Carlo Ancelotti has all but ruled him out of this game.
Alex (hip), Yossi Benayoun (Achilles) and Frank Lampard (groin) are all out due to injury, but Salomon Kalou has shaken off a thigh problem and is available for selection.
In the meantime, defender Jose Bosingwa could start this game having recovered to make a substitute appearance against Aston Villa over the weekend.
Possible starting line-up: Cech; Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole; Zhirkov, Essien, Mikel, Ramires; Anelka, Kalou.
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