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Crunch time for Zenit and Anderlecht

Published: Tuesday 23 October 2012, 17.54CET
FC Zenit St Petersburg are "gradually improving" yet Luciano Spalletti knows he is not the only coach after maximum points from the Group C double header with RSC Anderlecht.
by Artem Nefedyev
from Stadion Petrovski
Crunch time for Zenit and Anderlecht
The group situation is already looking precarious for Luciano Spalletti's Zenit ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 23 October 2012, 17.54CET

Crunch time for Zenit and Anderlecht

FC Zenit St Petersburg are "gradually improving" yet Luciano Spalletti knows he is not the only coach after maximum points from the Group C double header with RSC Anderlecht.

With a Group C point between them after the first two matchdays, it is now or never for FC Zenit St Petersburg and RSC Anderlecht. The Russian champions' coach Luciano Spalletti wants four to six points from their double-header but despite having won just once in their last six away games, the Belgian side have similar ambitions.

I heard Anderlecht's general director say they wanted four to six points from their matches with Zenit  – well, we are after the same
Luciano Spalletti
This is a serious match and we have to get a good result and then play even better in Belgium and knock Zenit out
John van den Brom

Zenit
Coach Luciano Spalletti
All Champions League games are important and tomorrow is no exception. I heard Anderlecht's general director say they wanted four to six points from their matches with Zenit  – well, we are after the same. We cannot afford any slip-ups.

We have endured a difficult period but the situation is gradually improving. I am starting to see a positive future again. In Hulk and Axel Witsel we have two players of a very high standard and they have already started to show they can become a force here, even if they need time to adapt and build a partnership. We must wait until the end of the season before judging their impact at Zenit.

Dieudonné Mbokani's absence for Anderlecht won't play a big role. Anderlecht are a strong club who can't afford to rely on just one individual; one player can't lead them to the Champions League. We shouldn't think for a minute that they will make it easy for us. We need to get out there and play our own game.

Weekend result
Saturday: Zenit 1-0 FC Kuban Krasnodar (Kerzhakov 45+1pen)

Malafeev; Anyukov, Lombaerts, Hubočan, Criscito; Bystrov, Zyryanov, Shirokov (Fayzulin 55, Yanbaev 87), Witsel; Kerzhakov, Hulk (Semak 74).

• Zenit earned their first home victory in five matches and are now five points behind Russian Premier-Liga leaders FC Anji Makhachkala, in fourth spot.

Team news
Spalletti has a full squad at his disposal save for long-term absentee Danny, who has not featured since rupturing cruciate knee ligaments on 5 February.

Anderlecht
Coach John van den Brom
Zenit are a very good team and this game could be their last chance to compete for a top-two finish in the group, but it is no less important for us. Our opponents are in a difficult position. We played them two years ago and it was not easy for us [Zenit won 3-1 home and away], and they have won their most recent domestic matches so it is hard to predict how things will go in the match.

We have to play as one harmonious unit and play well. We can take some inspiration from our 0-0 draw at AC Milan [on matchday one] – that was a huge game, but it is in the past now and this next match will be different. With the [3-0 defeat by] Málaga, they were just a very strong team and it is worth remembering that they beat Zenit too, though that was in Spain while they beat us at home.

This is a serious match and we have to get a good result and then play even better in Belgium and knock Zenit out of the running for this group.

Weekend result
Friday: Anderlecht 2-0 Waasland Beveren (Biglia 36, Jovanović 69)

Proto; Gillet, Kouyaté (Juhász 77), Nuytinck, Deschacht; Biglia, Kanu; Bruno (Molins 57), Praet (Vargas 81), Jovanović; De Sutter.

• Silvio Proto made his 150th league appearance for the Brussels outfit as Anderlecht moved level on points with Belgian First League leaders Club Brugge KV.

Team news
Striker Dieudonné Mbokani misses out with a broken nose sustained on international duty. Guillaume Gillet faces a fitness test before the game while Milan Jovanović is expected to play.

Match fact
Spalletti's Zenit prevailed 3-1 home and away when the sides met in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage. Zenit, who surrendered a 16-match unbeaten home run in Europe against AC Milan on 3 October, have won all three of their home games against Belgian teams.

Last updated: 24/10/12 20.16CET

Related information

Team profiles

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2013/matches/round=2000347/match=2009524/prematch/preview/index.html#crunch+time+zenit+anderlecht

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