Spartak Moscow coach Massimo Carrera insists his side does not fear Liverpool at Anfield ahead of their must-win Champions League tie.
Only victory can secure passage to the knockout stage for the Russian club but their European record – combined with the Reds’ home form – makes it a tough ask.
Although Spartak have lost just once in 19 matches, they have won only six of their last 40 Champions League games and not registered a European away victory since beating Ajax 1-0 in the Europa League in March 2011.
Add to that the fact Liverpool, the competition’s second-highest scorers heading into the final round of matches, have not lost at home since April and are unbeaten in 12 European games at Anfield – in a run dating back to October 2014 when Real Madrid were victorious – and the stakes are even higher for the visitors.
‘We are aware that we are up against a very strong opponent,’ Carrera told his pre-match press conference.
‘We will try to break Liverpool down and try to stick to our gameplan to cause them problems. We know how much experience Liverpool have in competitions like these.
‘We’re going to face great players with a great atmosphere inside the squad. We will face a very strong team, but we respect the opponent and the fans of Liverpool.
‘We respect them, but we don’t fear them. We have good players of our own.
‘It’s a big game for us tomorrow. We will see what happens.’
The former Juventus, Atalanta and Italy defender gave his side the best chance of victory by resting key forward Quincy Promes at the weekend in order for him to be fresh for this challenge.
Holland international Promes was injured for their Moscow meeting back in September but his eight goals in 16 matches this season make him the visitors’ main threat.
Carrera also has other attacking options available with Ze Luis and Luiz Adriano in contention to start.