FC Zenit St. Petersburg are putting on a brave face as they look to recover a three-goal deficit in the second leg of their UEFA Cup quarter-final against Sevilla FC.
Having lost 4-1 last week, Zenit go into the home game with Velice Sumulikoski, Andrei Arshavin and Erik Hagen suspended, although coach Vlastimil Petrzela remains upbeat. "I do not want to speak about the performance in Seville," said the Czech. "The show will go on in St Petersburg." With their weekend Russian Premier-Liga match against FC Rostov having been postponed, Zenit have no new injury worries. However, it has been confirmed that 21-year-old midfielder Igor Denisov will be rested as he looks to overcome a thigh injury aggravated in the first leg.
Goalkeeper Kamil Čontofalský may start at the Petrovsky stadium after he missed the trip to Spain in order to treat a shoulder problem. However, he will not be expecting an easy ride from the Andalusian visitors. Sunday's 2-1 city derby defeat by Real Betis Balompié has left Juande Ramos's side hungry for success, with a 2-1 reverse at Zenit in the group stage last November providing even more incentive to progress to the semi-finals.
The coach is fully aware that their Russian visitors will be going all out in the opening stages, but has a full squad to choose from, minus Antonio Puerta (hamstring) and Ivica Dragutinović (knee). He has welcomed back Jordi López from a thigh complaint as well as Jesús Navas, whose suspension for this game was cancelled on appeal. "We still have 90 minutes ahead of us and we have a very tough opponent to beat," Ramos said. "My best players will be on the pitch to avoid nasty surprises."
Chief among them will be midfielder Renato. He said: "The match will be a battle but we're ready for them. They didn't play this weekend and will be well-rested, so we're facing a tough 90 minutes. We have to avoid getting a player sent off so we have to play calmly and not think we're 4-1 up." Captain Javi Navarro said the key to success in Russia was "to expect a hellhole and start the game taking risks and keeping the tension high. If then the situation is better, all the better for us."
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