Russian clubs look to book places in UEFA Cup group stage

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MOSCOW, October 4, (RIA Novosti) - Three Russian club sides look to book their places in the UEFA Cup group stage today, with all of the teams defending healthy leads from the first round legs.

Spartak Moscow's fixture against BK Hacken in Sweden is set to be little more than a formality following the Muscovites' emphatic 5-0 victory on September 20. However, Spartak will be looking for some good news from the match, following the announcement that their influential midfielder, and key member of the national side, Vladimir Bystrov, is to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Another Moscow side, Lokomotiv, face Denmark's Midtjylland at home in a match that kicks off at 7:00 p.m. local time (3:00 p.m. GMT). Lokomotiv lead 3-1 from the first leg, and are firm favorites, despite their erratic domestic form this season, to go through. Around 2,000 police are to provide security at the game.

The final Russian team involved in matches on Thursday is Zenit St. Petersburg. Despite viewing the domestic championship as a priority - Zenit have never won the Russian title - the club is expected to field its strongest lineup for their match against Standard in Belgium. Zenit lead 3-0 from the first leg, and should also go through to the group stage if the effects of Saturday's hard-fought 2-1 victory over CSKA Moscow do not take their toll.

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