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  Friday, November 15, 2019
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Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Kiev will breathe
Spartak Moscow and Dynamo Kiev will breathe new life into a Soviet-era rivalry when they kick off the first leg of their third-round qualifying tie in the Russian capital on Wednesday evening.

The two sides regularly battled for honors in the U.S.S.R Championship, with games between the two clubs filling stadiums. Their meetings since the breakup of the Soviet Union have been much less frequent, but the rivalry between the clubs and their fans has lost none of its edge.

Both sides finished second in their respective championships last year to qualify for the tournament. Dynamo Kiev won the right to take on Spartak for a place in the lucrative group stage courtesy of an unconvincing 4-3 aggregate win against Irish champions Drogheda United in the second qualifying round.

The two sides last met in Israel in the pre-season Channel One Cup, sponsored by the state-run Russian TV station. Dynamo Kiev, currently managed by former Lokomotiv Moscow trainer Yuri Syomin, ran out convincing 3-0 winners.

Both Spartak and Dynamo's best achievement in Europe's most prestigious club competition is the semi-finals - Spartak losing to Olympique de Marseille in 1991 and Dynamo going down to Bayern Munich in 1999.

Spartak Moscow have been through a turbulent time in the last few weeks, with a 5-1 defeat at home to cross-town rivals CSKA followed by the replacement of longtime general director Sergei Shavlo by former Spartak and Celta Vigo star, Valery Karpin. Spartak have also seen their captain and talisman, Yegor Titov, leave the club for Khmiki, a struggling team based near the Russian capital.

Spartak have however signed Ivan Saenko from German club, Nuremburg. The move, coincidentally, means that all of the Russian national side that appeared at Euro 2008 now ply their trade in their homeland.

The excitement around the Spartak-Dynamo clash has even captured the imagination of the Muscovites' Brazilian defender, Mozart.

"The match is a classic former Soviet encounter," he said, adding that the teams were "old, deadly rivals."

"On paper, there were other teams that would have been better opponents, but we know what we have to do to get past them," Karpin told UEFA. "The matches are generating great interest among fans from the former Soviet Union."

The match kicks off at the Luzhniki stadium at 8:00 p.m. (16:00 GMT). The second leg will take place in the Ukrainian capital on August 27.

Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg will enter the tournament in the group stage, which begins on September 16.

Other third round qualifying ties include FC Twente, managed by former England manager Steve McClaren, against Arsenal. Barcelona, who beat Arsenal in the 2006 Champions League final, take on the winners of Moldova's FC Sherif and Sparta Prague. Liverpool will face the Belgians Standard Liege.


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