FC Anji Makhachkala will look to end a barren spell in front of goal when free-scoring Tottenham Hotspur FC visit in UEFA Europa League Group K this afternoon.
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition.
• Anji received a crash course in English football last season, exchanging 1-0 home wins with Liverpool FC in the group stage of the UEFA Europa League before being eliminated 1-0 on aggregate by Newcastle United FC in the last 16. Their record against Premier League sides is W1 D1 L2 (W1 D1 L0 at home – W0 D0 L2 in England).
• This will be Tottenham’s fourth meeting with Russian opponents, with their three previous encounters – all in the UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League group stage – ending W1 D1 L1 (W1 D1 L0 in London – W0 D0 L1 in Russia).
• Anji made it through the UEFA Europa League group stage at the first attempt under Guus Hiddink last season, losing out to Newcastle in the round of 16.
• Anji drew 0-0 at FC Sheriff on matchday one and have now gone three games without scoring a European goal, and four games (D3 L1) without a continental victory.
• This is Tottenham’s sixth UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage campaign, and they also competed in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage, meaning that they have competed in one group stage or another for seven of the last eight seasons; their only absence was in 2009/10. They have only once missed out on the knockout phase in those campaigns, in 2011/12.
• Spurs maintained their impressive start to the season with a 3-0 win against Tromsø IL on matchday one; they have won all three of their games in this season’s competition, scoring 11 goals and conceding none.
• Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel is the oldest player registered in this season’s group stage; should he appear in this season’s competition he will replace FC Twente goalkeeper Sander Boschker (42 years and 33 days) as the oldest player to have featured in the UEFA Europa League.
• Anji’s Ivorian midfielder Abdul Razak has some experience of English football; a Manchester City FC trainee, he also played in the lower leagues for Portsmouth FC, Brighton & Hove Albion FC and Charlton Athletic FC. However, this will be his first encounter with Spurs.
• Tottenham (1972, 1984) are one of five teams in the group stage who have won this trophy before along with Valencia CF (2004), Eintracht Frankfurt (1980), PSV Eindhoven (1978) and fellow two-time winners Sevilla FC (2006, 2007).
• A major footballing figure in his native Dagestan, Gadzhi Gadzhiev returned for a fourth spell as Anji coach in the summer of 2013 with the club adopting a new approach following the departure of Dutchman Guus Hiddink. A player for FC Spartak Leningrad, he has coached in Azerbaijan and Japan, and worked as assistant to Anatoliy Byshovets during his spells in charge of the USSR/CIS and Russia, embarking on the first of his adventures with Anji in 1999.
• The only coach in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage to have won the competition in its current incarnation, André Villas-Boas learned his coaching craft under Sir Bobby Robson and José Mourinho. After a first solo venture at A. Académica de Coimbra, he led FC Porto to an extraordinary league, cup and UEFA Europa League treble in 2010/11. He fared less well at Chelsea FC, but regained his footing after joining Tottenham in July 2012.
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