Rangers: Spartak Moscow leave top players behind for domestic game


Raul Riancho (right) is unperturbed by fan protests as he will not remain in post
Europa League Group G: Rangers v Spartak Moscow
Venue: Ibrox Stadium, Glasgow Date: Thursday, 25 October Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Coverage: Updates on Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Spartak Moscow caretaker Raul Riancho views Monday’s domestic game as more important than facing Rangers after leaving seven players behind in Russia.

The Spaniard took command on Monday after coach Massimo Carrera was sacked.

“We left seven players behind in Moscow to prepare for a very important game with Rubin on Monday,” Riancho said before Thursday’s Europa League game.

“Because of the tight schedule, we want to give them time to prepare for this important match.”

Sixth-placed Spartak and Rubin Kazan are among four teams sitting seven points behind Zenit St Petersburg in the Russian Premier League.

The Moscow also outfit sit bottom of Europa League Group G with Rangers top.

But Riancho said: “I’m not only thinking about the match with Rangers. I have to think about the future as well.”

Luiz Adriano is missing after the Brazilian striker was banned for three matches for punching an opponent during their failed Champions League qualification bid.

Captain Denis Glushakov and fellow Russia international Andrey Yeshchenko were also absent for the 2,500-mile flight to Glasgow after an Instagram row that started when both liked a post criticising their former team boss.

The duo were banished to train with the youth team last month as punishment and it was expected both would be welcomed back by Riancho following Carrera’s departure.

However, he has decided he does not need either and has opted to leave them and four other regulars behind.

‘Don’t destroy our players’ careers’

Spartak Moscow sit sixth in the Russian Premier League

Riancho was speaking at Ibrox at the same time as a crowd of 200 fans were turning out to cheer on Carrera back in Moscow as he appeared at a press conference to respond to his axing.

The Italian was dismissed after Sunday’s defeat by Arsenal Tura only months after leading them to their first league crown since 2001.

Riancho knows he will not be a popular choice to take over permanently but appealed for unity before Thursday’s game.

“If the fans want to take action against me then that’s fine,” he added. “I ask of the fans only one thing. You can criticise me as much as you want – I’m only a caretaker – but please support the players from the first minute to the last.

“We have a very young team, a lot of players between 18 and 21 – and you can either help succeed or destroy their careers completely.

“I don’t care if you criticise me as I won’t be staying in the chair, but please support the team.”