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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CSKA Prepares Euro Cup Defense

LONDON -- CSKA Moscow was the first Russian club to win the UEFA Cup. Now it's aiming to become the first team since Real Madrid in 1986 to successfully defend it.

No fans will be in the stadium, however, for the start of the title defense in Moscow on Thursday.

UEFA ordered the game played in an empty Dynamo Stadium as punishment for crowd trouble during last season's semifinal against Parma.

Firecrackers were thrown from the stands, with one exploding near Parma goalkeeper Luca Bucci's head. Bucci was taken to a hospital for treatment to his ear.

CSKA went on to win 3-0 and advance to the final in Lisbon, where it beat Sporting Lisbon 3-1 for Russia's first European title. CSKA lost 3-1 to Champions League winner Liverpool in the Super Cup on Aug. 26.

The Russians might be short-handed in their attack Thursday, with influential midfielder Yury Zhirkov and Croatian striker Ivica Olic both injured. Brazilian striker Vagner Love is also doubtful with a leg injury.

CSKA isn't the only club to open its European season in a closed stadium.

Two-time champion Feyenoord will play without fans when it hosts Romania's Rapid Bucharest. UEFA ordered the Dutch club to play one game behind closed doors after fans threw fireworks and objects on the field during a Feyenoord-Sporting Lisbon match last year.

Feyenoord has appealed to supporters not to gather in front of the stadium during the match. "However good the intentions are, it brings the club in risk of a new punishment," the club said.

On the pitch, Feyenoord, champion in 1974 and 2002, is in good shape. Tied for first in the Dutch league, Feyenoord has won its first four matches, including a big away win at Ajax. Goalkeeper Patrick Lodwijks is in doubt with an ankle injury.

Sporting Lisbon travels to Swedish club Halmstads BK without main striker Liedson and winger Rudoph Douala. Liedson, last season's top scorer in the Portuguese league, has a right knee injury, and Doula has a thigh strain. Mauricio Pinilla and Wender will likely replace them.

Forty matches featuring clubs from 30 European countries are scheduled for Thursday's first leg of the first round. With its six teams, France has the most number of clubs playing: Auxerre, Strasbourg, Lens, AS Monaco, Rennes and Marseille. Germany has five clubs, including Stuttgart, Hertha Berlin, Hamburger SV and Mainz 05. The second-leg matches will be played Sept. 29. The 20 winners advance to the group stage.

England has three clubs in the UEFA Cup: Everton, Bolton and Middlesbrough. Everton missed out on qualifying for a place in the Champions League group stage.