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Having already braved wintry conditions in Moscow to prosper in the UEFA Europa League at FC Rubin Kazan's expense, FC Twente will hit the west coast of Russia in the round of 16 to take on 2008 UEFA Cup winners FC Zenit St Petersburg.
The tie against the 2010 Russian Premier-Liga champions – which kicks off with Thursday's first leg in Enschede – will provide a reunion with former colleagues for the Dutch club's manager of medical affairs, Rob Ouderland, who worked at Zenit as a physiotherapist two seasons ago.
"Twente play some good football and Zenit do too, so two teams playing at a high standard should make for an attractive tie," Ouderland told the makers of UEFA.com's behind-the-scenes documentary, The Twente Story.
"I know that Zenit can play well. If you give them space then they can punish you. But when I think how far we've come with Twente this season – reaching the last 16 and still being involved in all competitions – I know that we're also contenders. They have more European experience but these will be two open matches. It's so hard to predict."
Twente coach Michel Preud'homme will hope for a warmer welcome at the Petrovski Stadion for the second leg on 17 March, than the one the Tukkers encountered against Rubin Kazan in the round of 32 in Moscow last month. Still, they overcame temperatures considerably below zero to record a 2-0 win before a nerve-wracking 2-2 draw in front of their own supporters got them over the line.
"All the good work we'd done in Russia had been undone in the first few minutes," said Preud'homme. "Then we had to up our game to get back in it. Luckily it ended well, and after 33 years Twente are back among the last 16 of a European competition."
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