Karpin wary of Zilina threat

The Slovakians are making their first appearance in the group

stages and began their campaign by losing 4-1 to Chelsea two weeks

ago. Spartak, meanwhile, were impressive 1-0 winners in Marseille,

but Karpin insists that will count for nothing in the Russian

capital. He told uefa.com: “There are no small matches in the

Champions League. Although Zilina are less well known than

Marseille, Slovakia were in the last World Cup, unlike Russia, and

recently defeated our national team – so there is another

motivation for us. “I have not noticed any complacency in the team

but I’m trying to emphasise to the players that our opposition

should not be underestimated. “There are more than enough examples

of a team stronger on paper or in the eyes of fans or journalists

losing to a team much weaker on paper.” The Russians will be

without Nikita Bazhenov (thigh), Kirill Kombarov (ankle) and Nikola

Drincic, who must wait to make his competitive debut after

recovering from a broken leg, but Nicolas Pareja has recovered from

a calf problem. The player Zilina will be most wary of, though, is

striker Welliton, who has scored 16 goals in 17 league appearances

this season. Coach Pavel Hapal is well aware of Spartak’s attacking

prowess but believes Zilina can expose deficiencies at the back.

“We played open football against Chelsea, as we have all season,

and these are our principles, which we will not change against

Spartak,” he said. “Spartak’s whole team are very strong

individually but I would like to single out two players – Welliton

and Alex. They complement each other and they are real stars.

“Their attack is their strength but their defence is their weakness

and I hope my players show how to break them down. “We try to win

every game and tomorrow’s match against Spartak will be no

exception, but we shall see how it goes. We also aimed to play our

best against Chelsea but failed.”