Lokomotiv Moscow is going to make a bit of history this evening. The Railway Men take on Greek side AEK Athens for the Europa League in what will be the 100th European fixture for the Russians.
Although, the Railway Men’s head coach Jose Couceiro claims this should not affect his players’ motivation.
“It’s a good number for the club, no doubt. But it doesn’t really matter much in terms of motivation. We treat every game as a crucial one, because all the players take it as an honor to defend the colors of the club. AEK lost two games in this competition. And now they need at least a draw in this game. Of course, it’s not going to be easy for us. It’s going to be hard. So it doesn’t make any difference. It will be as hard as it was against Anderlecht last time. That’s the same,” said Couceiro.
However, not all of them will be able to do so at the Cherkizovsky Stadium with at least four key members of the squad set to sit on the sidelines.
“We’ve got a number of injured players and, to be honest, that is a problem. Midfielders Tarasov and Ozdoyev are sidelined, and Torbinsky is just recovering. Also, I’m not sure if Caicedo will be able to help us in the front line. But we’ll try to get away with those who are fit,” Couceiro added.
The second-placed hosts have won one of their two Group L games so far, having suffered their first defeat under the Portuguese coach, against Anderlecht, three weeks ago. Adding three points at home against the Greek side – who are bottom and have failed to claim a point so far – is definitely a must for Loko.
Another Russian representative in the Europa League, Rubin Kazan, are visiting London in an attempt to beat Tottenham.
“Meeting an English club is an opportunity not to stop development for any coach. We are well prepared for the upcoming match, but it’s important to feel the aura of English stadiums. I visited the stands of English stadiums once. I must say the atmosphere is amazing. Let’s see what kind of feelings will be on the bench,” Rubin’s coach Kurban Berdyev admitted.
Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko is in Spurs’ first XI for this game. Super Pav has spent just 17 minutes on the pitch in the English Premier League this season. But he has been a regular starter in the Europa League games and netted the equalizer in last month’s 3-1 win at home to Shamrock Rovers.
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, meanwhile, is wary of the Russian side.
“Well Joe [Jordan] has been watching all the videos on them and everything, so he is up to speed on them. They’re a good side, well organized, good counter attacking team, a very good team,” Redknapp said of Rubin.
The sides are level at the top of Group A, on four points. Tottenham are behind Rubin only on goal difference, so the winner will take the outright lead.