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Malafeev wary of wounded Benfica

Published: Monday 5 March 2012, 20.21CET
Vyacheslav Malafeev's past visits to Lisbon have taught him to fear the worst and so the FC Zenit St Petersburg goalkeeper is wary of a determined SL Benfica side.
by Carlos Machado
from Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica
Malafeev wary of wounded Benfica
Vyacheslav Malafeev hopes to point Zenit in the direction of the quarter-finals ©Getty Images
 
 
 
Published: Monday 5 March 2012, 20.21CET

Malafeev wary of wounded Benfica

Vyacheslav Malafeev's past visits to Lisbon have taught him to fear the worst and so the FC Zenit St Petersburg goalkeeper is wary of a determined SL Benfica side.

Vyacheslav Malafeev has warned his FC Zenit St Petersburg team-mates to beware of the wounded animal when they take on SL Benfica in Lisbon seeking to clinch their first UEFA Champions League quarter-final appearance.

Benfica's 3-2 home defeat by title rivals FC Porto last Friday night was their third in a four-match winless sequence and Malafeev is expecting a reaction from Jorge Jesus's hosts as they look to overturn Zenit's 3-2 first-leg advantage. "I didn't see the match [against Porto], but as a quality side I think that Benfica will somehow react to it and make it hard for us," said Malafeev, who missed the first meeting in St Petersburg with a calf injury.

Malafeev has good reason to be wary of a visit to Lisbon. The 33-year-old played as a second-half substitute for Russia in their 2-0 defeat by Portugal at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica in the UEFA EURO 2004 group stage. Later that year, on 13 October, he was on the receiving end of a seven-goal rout when Russia returned to Portugal for a FIFA World Cup qualifier – and crashed 7-1 at the Estadio José de Alvalade.

Hence his reticence when he was asked at Tuesday's press conference which Benfica players he considered the biggest threat to a Zenit side who will tomorrow play their 100th match in UEFA club competition. Malafeev, who made his first appearance of 2012 in the 2-2 draw with PFC CSKA Moskva on Saturday, said: "I don't want to talk about the players who I think are the best from Benfica because it could be tricky."

Benfica's run of one defeat from their last 19 European home fixtures – 15 of them victories – suggests as much, whatever their recent troubles. Not surprisingly, given his past experiences, Malafeev was quick to add: "Things may turn against me, so I'd rather be quiet and just perform the best I can."

Last updated: 05/03/12 22.49CET

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