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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

CSKA Faces Maccabi Haifa

CSKA takes on Israeli side Maccabi Haifa in the UEFA Cup first knockout round Wednesday, but the game will not be played at CSKA's Dynamo stadium.

The 2005 champion will instead host Maccabi in Vladikavkaz, which is a three-hour flight from Moscow and located in the volatile Caucasus region near Chechnya. CSKA requested that the tie be moved because it would be too cold to play the match in Moscow.

It will bring back good memories for coach Valery Gazzayev, who won his first Russian Premier League title as manager of Spartak Vladikavkaz in 1995.

While Gazzayev has gone on to win the title three more times with CSKA, including last season, Vladikavkaz's fortunes took a drastic turn for the worse after he left. The club was relegated from the Premier League in 2005 and in 2006 was excluded from professional football for juridical irregularities.

Having sorted out its off-the-field problems, Spartak Vladikavkaz is currently in the Russia First Division and the stadium will see its first European football since Vladikavkaz hosted Polish side Amcia Wronki in 2000.

City rivals Spartak will have no problems hosting Spain's Celta Vigo on Thursday, with the Luzhniki Stadium boasting an artificial pitch.

Former European champion Steaua Bucharest hosts UEFA Cup holder Sevilla in a game the Romanians wish they could have played nine months ago.

They were cruelly denied a place in last season's final after Middlesbrough capped a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down 24 minutes into the semifinal second leg, progressing with Massimo Maccarone's winner a minute from time.

Sevilla won the trophy with a 4-0 demolition of the English side.

"There is somebody up there who wanted Steaua to face Sevilla this year after Middlesbrough stopped us playing last year's final," Steaua coach Cosmin Olaroiu said of their last 32 meeting.

Steaua playmaker Nicolae Dica will miss both legs after undergoing knee surgery, with Gabriel Bostina likely to deputize.

Sevilla travels to Bucharest in need of a confidence-boosting performance after winning one of six league games in 2007.

After topping the Primera Liga heading into the Christmas break, the Spanish side has now slipped three points behind league-leader Barcelona.

"Football teams aren't machines and have their ups and downs. We aren't doing as well as we were earlier but the important thing is that while we strive to recover our form we are still in a privileged situation," Sevilla coach Juande Ramos said.

Fifteen first knockout round ties take place Wednesday and Thursday, Feyenoord having been expelled from the competition because of crowd violence to hand Tottenham a bye to the last 16.

(Reuters, MT)