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Porto and Zenit face off for last-16 spot

Published: Monday 28 November 2011, 8.45CET
FC Porto need to beat FC Zenit St Petersburg in their decisive final Group G fixture to reach the last 16 but the visitors, a point above their hosts in second place, will have other ideas.
Porto and Zenit face off for last-16 spot
Álvaro Pereira clears under pressure from Zenit's Danny during Porto's matchday two defeat in Russia ©Getty Images
Published: Monday 28 November 2011, 8.45CET

Porto and Zenit face off for last-16 spot

FC Porto need to beat FC Zenit St Petersburg in their decisive final Group G fixture to reach the last 16 but the visitors, a point above their hosts in second place, will have other ideas.

FC Porto take on FC Zenit St Petersburg in a decisive final Group G fixture at the Estádio do Dragão on matchday six.

• For Vítor Pereira's hosts, it is win or bust as they sit third in the group, a point behind Zenit, who need only draw to secure their progress to the last 16. Either club could even end the night dislodging surprise leaders APOEL FC at the top, albeit that would depend on the Cypriot team's result in their home fixture with FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

• For Porto the aim is to avoid falling at this hurdle for the first time since the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League, since when they have made four appearances in the knockout rounds. Zenit, who came from behind to beat Porto 3-1 in St Petersburg, are bidding to reach the latter stages for the first time.

• It is Zenit's first trip to Porto but their defender Bruno Alves will need no introduction to the home supporters – the defender spent ten years as a Porto player before moving to Russia in August 2010.

Match background
• Porto's home form should give them confidence entering this crucial match – their ten European fixtures at the Dragão this season and last have yielded seven victories and only one defeat.

• This run includes victories against two Russian visitors en route to their UEFA Europa League triumph last term – a 2-1 success against PFC CSKA Moskva in the last 16, then a 5-1 quarter-final win against FC Spartak Moskva which featured a hat-trick from Falcao.

• While this is Zenit's first match on the Portuguese mainland, they have played in Madeira and will want to avoid a repeat of the fate they suffered when going down 4-3 to CD Nacional in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League play-offs. Porto goalkeeper Rafael Bracali was in that Nacional side, who ended up 5-4 aggregate winners thanks to a late equaliser in the St Petersburg return by Rúben Micael, who spent last season at Porto.

• Zenit's only other meeting with Portuguese opposition was a 2-1 home win against Vitória SC 2-1 in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup group stage.

• The Russian club have played seven away matches in their European Cup history and their record reads W2 D1 L4 (W1 D1 L3 in the UEFA Champions League).

Team ties
• Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti has encountered Portuguese opposition before in the UEFA Champions League group stage, guiding AS Roma to a 2-1 home victory and 2-2 away draw against a Sporting Clube de Portugal side including João Moutinho in 2007/08.

• Bruno Alves made 119 league appearances for Porto, winning four league titles, three Portuguese Cups and two Super Cups before joining Zenit.

• Danny earned one win, one draw and one defeat against Porto while at CS Marítimo between 2001 and 2004.

• Bruno Alves and Danny are Portuguese international colleagues of Moutinho, Rolando and Silvestre Varela.

• Steven Defour suffered a 3-0 defeat at Zenit with R. Standard de Liège in the first leg of a 2007/08 UEFA Cup first round tie that the Russian side won 4-1 on aggregate. He lined up against his Belgian international colleague Nicolas Lombaerts as well as Aleksandr Anyukov and Konstantin Zyryanov.

• Defour faced Zyryanov, Roman Shirokov and Aleksandr Kerzhakov when helping Belgium beat Russia 2-0 in a Voronezh friendly in November last year.

• Sergei Semak and Cristian Rodríguez were team-mates at Paris Saint-Germain FC in 2005/06.

• Rolando got the better of Szabolcs Huszti when Portugal won 1-0 against Hungary in a September 2009 qualifier for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

• In August 2009 Nicolás Otamendi featured for Argentina in a 3-2 friendly win against a Russia team including Anyukov, Denisov, Semak, Zyryanov and Kerzhakov.

• Moutinho, Rolando, and Silvestre Varela were in the Portugal team beaten on penalties in a play-off for the 2008 Olympic Games by Alessandro Rosina's Italy at the 2007 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.

Last updated: 30/11/11 18.29CET

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http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000263/match=2007653/prematch/background/index.html#porto+zenit+face+last+spot

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