Russia's Lokomotiv and Zenit start UEFA Cup group stage

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Two of Russia's three representatives in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup begin their group stage matches on Thursday with games against Spanish and Dutch sides.

MOSCOW, October 25 (RIA Novosti) - Two of Russia's three representatives in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup begin their group stage matches on Thursday with games against Spanish and Dutch sides.

Lokomotiv Moscow face Atletico Madrid in the Russian capital in their first game in Group B, which also includes Greek outfit Panathinaikos, Copenhagen, and Scottish club Aberdeen.

Zenit St. Petersburg has a home match in Group A against Holland's Az Alkamar. The game will be Zenit coach Dick Advocaat's first clash against opposition from his home country since taking over at the club in July, 2006.

Group A also includes English side Everton, German club Nuremburg, featuring Russian national team player Ivan Saenko, and Greek club Larissa, who upset English Premier League side Blackburn in the knockout round that served as a qualifier for the group stages.

Russia's third representative in the UEFA Cup, Spartak Moscow, has a rest day in Group E on Thursday. Their first match comes on November 8, at home to Germany's Bayer Leverkusen, Champions League finalists in 2002. Other teams in the group are Czech club Sparta Prague, French outfit Toulouse, and Swiss club FC Zurich.

Each team will play two matches at home and two away, with the top three going through to the knockout rounds, where they will be joined by the eight teams finishing in third place in their Champions League groups. There is currently a real possibility that one of these sides could be current Russian champions, CSKA Moscow, winners of the tournament in 2005, who face an upward struggle to qualify for the Champions League's knockout stage.

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