Spartak Moscow will go into their must win Group F match against Marseille this week, on the back of a demoralising 3-1 loss to city rivals CSKA despite leading 1-0 at half-time. The loss was made worse by the fact CSKA played the last 40 minutes with ten men.
Valeri Karpin will need to get his players in the right mindset for what he has described as his team’s “game of the season” at the Luzhniki Stadium. With Chelsea six points clear at the top of the group, the all important second spot is still very much up for grabs.
Champions league betting pundits note that Spartak’s better head-to-head record means any win for the Russians would be enough to progress, while Marseille need to win by more than 1-0 to secure their place.
Spartak were on the end of a resounding 4-1 defeat in their last Group F match, coming at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, while Marseille thumped Zilina 7-0. The French club are enjoying a decent season domestically, lying fifth in Ligue 1, just two points behind leaders Lille.
The hosts have a number of injury concerns heading into the match, with Alex, Ari and Martin Stranzl all doubtful. Sergei Parshivlyuk is still missing after his knee injury and will be joined on the sidelines by Andrei Ivanov, who is out with a thigh injury. Marseilles are only without Benoit Cheyrou who has a groin injury but otherwise Didier Deschamps is picking from a fit squad.
Even with their injury concerns, the Champions League odds suggest that Spartak should gain enough advantage from being the home side and take the points needed to progress to the next stage.