Mandanda ready for ‘small final’

With two rounds remaining, the teams are level on six points – six

points behind leaders Chelsea – with only the top two in the pool

progressing to the last 16 of the competition. Spartak currently

hold that coveted second spot having beaten Marseille in their

opening group match, but Mandanda wants to see his team change that

at the Luzhniki Stadium. “Victory is imperative if we want to

qualify for the knockout rounds,” he said. “We know European

football is a requirement so facing Spartak tomorrow is like a

small final for us. “We know we must win there to achieve our aim

of qualifying for the last 16.” A 1-0 win over Toulouse at the

weekend saw Marseille climb to fifth in Ligue 1, and striker Loic

Remy believes that will stand them in good stead for the trip to

the Russian capital. “We are very confident going into the match

and we know what we have to do,” he said. “With the state of mind

we gained from winning on Saturday, I think we have a really good

chance.” Spartak were soundly beaten 4-1 by Chelsea in their last

European outing, while their domestic campaign has also faltered

with a 3-1 loss to city rivals CSKA Moscow at the weekend. The best

they can hope for now is a fourth-placed finish in the Premier

Liga, but Marseille boss Didier Deschamps does not think their

opponents’ poor league form will influence their European campaign.

“I expect there to be several changes in the Spartak side for

Tuesday’s match from the one which played on Saturday,” he said.

“Their defeat will not change their mood a great deal nor their

desire to beat us.” Spartak boss Valeri Karpin is set to be without

Sergei Parshivlyuk (knee), Alex and Ari (both thigh) for Tuesday

night’s clash, while Benoit Cheyrou (groin) will miss out for