Three Russian teams remain in contention for a place in the group stage of the Europa League. Of those, Spartak Moscow will take two invaluable away goals into their second leg, at home to Legia, on Thursday after drawing 2-2 in Poland last week.
The 2-2 score after the first leg of the Europa League play-off match seems to be more in Spartak’s favor than their rivals Legia. After all, the Muscovites can still qualify for the next round even with a 0-0 or a 1-1 draw. However, the Polish side are probably not going to stick around in defense and will want charge the Red-and-White’s goal continuously.
While another 2-2 draw seems unlikely in this return leg, just one goal could send either team on to the group stages of the Europa League.
“This will probably be the toughest match since I began coaching Legia a year ago,” says Legia helmsman Maciej Skorza. “But we are not afraid and came to Moscow full of desire to fight and we are hoping to win. We had a few chances in Warsaw and I hope we’ll have enough of them here too.”
Legia is coming of a 2-1 home defeat in a match where it was considered a hot favorite in the latest round in the Polish League. That could mean several things including the fact that the team finds it hard to cope with two matches a week. Or perhaps Legia was conserving energy ahead of the Europa League play-offs against Spartak Moscow.
“I don’t think Legia lost that match because their team is weaker than that particular opponent. Our match against them in Poland was very emotional and took away a lot of their energy. The Poles admitted that match against Spartak was their best performance in the recent years,” says Spartak coach Valery Karpin.
Spartak drew in their last away match in the Russian Premier League against their namesakes from Nalchik. However, it seems that Spartak’s performance does not fall into a pattern.
After all, before their 2-2 draw in the first leg against Legia, the Red-and-Whites thrashed one of Russia’s most promising sides, Anzhi Makhachkala.
In addition to Spartak’s two away goals in this tie, the Red-and-Whites will also enjoy the home pitch advantage. It is highly unlikely that Moscow’s 80,000-seat Luzhniki Stadium will be filled to capacity this time around, however the fans of Russia’s most decorated club are known for their great support in any number.