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|Attempts off target||47||62|
Defender Karim Haggui believes this Bayer 04 Leverkusen side is capable of emulating the club's UEFA Cup triumph of 1987/88 but warns they will need to be at their best to get past FC Zenit St. Petersburg in the quarter-finals.
Leverkusen have saved some of their best football for Europe this term, topping their UEFA Cup group ahead of another Russian team, FC Spartak Moskva, before eliminating Galatasaray AS and Hamburger SV en route to the last eight. Haggui is determined for that run to continue, starting with the first leg at the BayArena on Thursday. "There's something special about playing European games and competing against some of the best clubs," the Tunisian international told uefa.com.
"We've played some lovely football already and we're all extremely motivated for the Zenit match. Beating sides like FC Zürich, Galatasaray and Hamburg breeds confidence and we are starting to feel that we have an opportunity to do something special this season. Our objective in the league is to finish in the top five at least, but the UEFA Cup is a competition we can win."
Despite losing their last two league matches, against FC Bayern München and Eintracht Frankfurt, Michael Skibbe's men remain fourth in the Bundesliga, and Haggui is far from disheartened. "We've had a positive campaign so far and the atmosphere in the team is still good despite the recent results," the 24-year-old explained. "In any case, losing in the league has nothing to do with Thursday night. The context is totally different. This is an international competition. We can make history for the club, and it's up to us to perform."
Haggui, who joined Leverkusen from RC Strasbourg in 2006, has played in all but one of the club's UEFA Cup games this term and should continue his sturdy centre-back partnership with Manuel Friedrich against the Russian champions. He knows how important it will be to establish a solid platform in the home leg, saying: "Zenit showed they're a top side by beating Villarreal [CF] and Olympique de Marseille and we'll have to be at our best to win. Above all, though, we must be careful not to concede.
"I saw Zenit lose [3-1] in Marseille – they really didn't play well and were fortunate not to concede five or six goals. Then, in the second leg in Russia, with the fans behind them and the freezing conditions, it was a different story. They looked a formidable outfit and punished Marseille for conceding at home. If we keep a clean sheet on Thursday we have a great chance because we're a team that's always likely to score away from home – as we showed against Hamburg in the last round."
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