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Spalletti sensing Zenit surge for Porto visit

Published: Tuesday 27 September 2011, 19.10CET
Luciano Spalletti said FC Zenit St Petersburg are ready to kick-start their campaign against FC Porto, for whom Vítor Pereira foresees a tight battle both in Russia and through the group stage.
by Artem Nefedyev
from St Petersburg
Spalletti sensing Zenit surge for Porto visit
Luciano Spalletti's Zenit side have won all three domestic games since their matchday one loss ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 27 September 2011, 19.10CET

Spalletti sensing Zenit surge for Porto visit

Luciano Spalletti said FC Zenit St Petersburg are ready to kick-start their campaign against FC Porto, for whom Vítor Pereira foresees a tight battle both in Russia and through the group stage.

As his FC Zenit St Petersburg side aim to get off the mark in Group G, Luciano Spalletti has urged his players to seize the moment against an FC Porto team still smarting from conceding a late equaliser against SL Benfica on Friday. The visitors arrive with three points already in the bag, and although their coach Vítor Pereira said they would go all out for another win, he expects this section to go down to the wire.

Zenit
Coach Luciano Spalletti

Porto are a club with great history who have played well for many years. Their strength can be measured by all the good players and coaches they have produced. There are big moments in life, this is one, and we're ready for it. We will play to win, as against all other teams. It does not depend on the tactics – if we lose, something went wrong. The most important thing here is the right attitude and mentality; that will help us win.

Against APOEL we had a few moments of bad luck, for example Viktor Fayzulin hitting the woodwork; we will try and make as few mistakes as possible this time. The price of errors in the Champions League is much higher than in the Russian league. Any mistake will be taken advantage of by our opponents.

Porto are an experienced side that are ready for a high density of important matches [after the visitors' Liga game against SL Benfica on Friday]. We have looked at the Benfica goals and will try and exploit the same things. Vyacheslav Malafeev has improved markedly in recent days, but he will have to fully convince me of his fitness as we have Yuri Zhevnov, a goalkeeper in whom I have no doubts.

Weekend result
Saturday: Zenit 4-0 FC Tom Tomsk (Fayzulin 4, Shirokov 23, Kerzhakov 43 54)
Zhevnov; Criscito (Lombaerts 74), Alves, Luković, Anyukov; Danny, Denisov, Shirokov (Huszti 62), Fayzulin; Bukharov, Kerzhakov (Lazović 62)

• Luciano Spalletti's side stretched their unbeaten run at home to 12 matches, winning eight and drawing four since a 2-0 cup defeat by PFC CSKA Moskva on 20 April.

Team news
Bruno Alves is suspended. Malafeev has a bruised thigh so Zhevnov kept goal on Saturday. Sergei Semak has a broken metatarsal.

Porto
Coach Vítor Pereira
Zenit are one of the strongest team in Europe, feature renowned players like Danny, Bruno Alves and Aleksandr Kerzhakov, while Spalletti is also known all over the world. This means we must be wary, but we will still aim for victory. There are three teams in this group – Zenit, Shakhtar and Porto – who have recently won European trophies and the fight will go down to the last games. As such, we can only play to win.

We were not satisfied with the result of the Benfica match. The last few minutes were especially annoying, but we are going to try and continue playing at the same high level. We have done our homework. We know Zenit's strengths as a team and the individual characteristics of the players. Hopefully we'll see a great match between two strong sides. We are ready for their pressure, but it will not prevent us from playing our football and using our trump cards.

Weekend result
Friday: Porto 2-2 SL Benfica (Kléber 37, Otamendi 50; Cardozo 47, Gaitán 82)
Helton; Fucile, Rolando, Otamendi, Pereira; Fernando, Guarín (Belluschi 77), Moutinho; Varela (Walter 86), Kléber (Cristian Rodríguez 80), Hulk

• Porto stretched their unbeaten Liga run to 45 games (39 wins, six draws), dating back to 28 February 2010 and a 3-0 defeat at Sporting Clube de Portugal.

Team news
Fredy Guarín is suspended.

Team fact
Zenit have never faced Porto before but need only turn to defender Bruno Alves for information about their visitors – he spent ten years as a Porto player before moving to Russia in August 2010.

Last updated: 27/09/11 22.13CET

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http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000263/match=2007597/prematch/preview/index.html#spalletti+sensing+zenit+surge+porto+visit

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