Maribor can hold their own in opener
BT Sport Extra, 7.45pm Wednesday
With Liverpool and Sevilla likely to battle it out for Group E supremacy, Slovenian minnows Maribor and Russian champions Spartak get an early chance to gain an advantage in the race for the Europa League.
And there may not be as much of a gulf between the sides as the prices suggest. Maribor have overcome three gruelling qualifiers to return to Europe’s biggest stage, having been absent from the main draw since 2014, while Spartak have not featured in the Champions League for five years.
The Slovenian hosts have defeated Zrinjski, Iceland's FH and Hapoel Beer Sheva to get this far - conceding just once in three home legs - and Spartak are already toiling in their title defence, having won just three of their opening nine domestic matches.
There’s little doubt Spartak are the classier unit - tricky winger Quincy Promes could make an impact - but Maribor are solid defensively and they are no pushovers on their own patch.
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Strikers Luka Zahovic and Dare Vrsic are sidelined, as is defender Jean-Claude Billong.
Roman Zobnin and Ze Luis are out. Jano Ananidze and Serdar Tasci are doubts.
Maribor have lost just one of their last ten Champions League home matches.
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