MOSCOW, October 22 (RIA Novosti)
Spartak Moscow's Champions League campaign is very much alive despite two defeats in their opening two games, coach Unai Emery insisted Monday ahead of his side's win-or-bust match against Benfica.
The Russian side sit bottom of Group C and host the Portuguese giants on Tuesday knowing anything less than three points will spell the end for this season's European adventure.
Last month Spartak lost 3-2 to group leaders Barcelona at the Camp Nou, and by the same scoreline at home to Celtic earlier this month to leave them teetering on the brink.
"I think the game is decisive for both teams," Emery said. "Barcelona are the favorites, but the three teams are battling for second place."
"Tomorrow's game will be crucial for two reasons. Firstly we are playing at home, and secondly we are fighting for that second spot."
Spartak have had less-than-ideal preparation for the game, losing 2-1 to Russian league leaders Anzhi Makhachkala on an own goal from Juan Manuel Insaurralde on Saturday.
Star striker Emmanuel Emenike and No. 1 goalkeeper Andriy Dikan may be back for Tuesday's Champions League match after missing the Anzhi game through injury.
Benfica, meanwhile, lie third in the group with a 2-0 defeat to Barcelona and a 0-0 draw with Celtic behind them.
A Barcelona victory at home to Celtic on Tuesday combined with a Spartak win will see the Russians leapfrog Benfica into third.
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