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Málaga kick off adventure with Zenit visit

Manuel Pellegrini's Málaga CF face FC Zenit St Petersburg in their debut UEFA Champions League fixture hoping to ensure that the visitors' poor record in Spain goes on.

Málaga will look to Manuel Pellegrini's experience in their first UEFA Champions League campaign
Málaga will look to Manuel Pellegrini's experience in their first UEFA Champions League campaign ©AFP/Getty Images

Málaga CF embark on their first UEFA Champions League adventure with a Group C home fixture against FC Zenit St Petersburg.

• The Liga club should be in safe hands given coach Manuel Pellegrini's experience of leading Villarreal CF to the semi-finals in their debut campaign in 2005/06 although Pellegrini has suffered against Zenit in the past, losing to them with Villarreal in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup.

• Zenit have never won in Spain but can call on the experience of two previous UEFA Champions League campaigns as they prepare to kick off at La Rosaleda.

Match background
• This is only Málaga's second season of European football but they already have an impressive unbeaten home record. In 2002/03, they played eight fixtures from the third round of the UEFA Intertoto Cup through to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals, recording five wins and three draws. Add this season's 2-0 play-off success against Panathinaikos FC and they have conceded only three goals in nine home outings.

• Zenit reached the round of 16 in last season's competition before defeat by SL Benfica but did not win away. Their only victory on their travels in the UEFA Champions League was at FC BATE Borisov in 2008/09.

• Zenit have lost on all four previous visit to Spain, starting with a 2-1 reverse at RC Celta de Vigo in the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup. Next was a 4-1 defeat at Sevilla FC in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup quarter-finals but their third trip proved less costly as a 2-1 loss at Pellegrini's Villarreal in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup round of 32 sent them through on away goals and they went on to win the competition. The following season, they went down 3-0 at Real Madrid CF in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Team ties
• In only his second European tie as Villarreal coach Pellegrini oversaw a 3-2 aggregate victory against FC Spartak Moskva in the UEFA Intertoto Cup third round in 2004.

• As coach of AS Roma, Luciano Spalletti recorded 2-1 home and away wins against Real Madrid in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League round of 16. In the group stage a season earlier, his Roma team lost 2-1 at Joaquín's Valencia CF but won the return game 1-0.

• With Sevilla in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup, Javier Saviola scored in a 2-1 group stage loss at Zenit then struck twice when the teams met again in the quarter-finals and Sevilla prevailed 5-2 on aggregate, going on to win the competition. Saviola also appeared as a substitute in two Real Madrid wins against Zenit in 2008/09 and watched from the bench as Benfica eliminated the Russian club last term.

• Joaquín and Saviola once lined up against each other in a Seville derby. Although Saviola scored Sevilla's goal, Joaquín's Real Betis Balompié ran out 2-1 home victors in April 2006.

• Aleksandr Kerzhakov played for Sevilla between 2006 and 2008, scoring eight goals in 26 Liga appearances and winning the UEFA Cup, Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup.

• With R. Standard de Liège, Axel Witsel earned a 1-0 home success against Sevilla in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage. Oguchi Onyewu was in the Standard side with Witsel.

• Vyacheslav Malafeev, Aleksandr Anyukov, Sergei Semak, Roman Shirokov and Konstantin Zyryanov were part of the Russia squad beaten twice by Spain at UEFA EURO 2008.

• Malafeev, Anyukov, Shirokov, Zyryanov, Viktor Fayzulin and Nicolas Lombaerts featured in Zenit's 2007/08 victory over Pellegrini's Villarreal. Shirokov was one of two Zenit players sent off in the second leg in Spain. Martín Demichelis's FC Bayern München went down 5-1 to Zenit in the semi-finals of the same campaign.

• Hulk helped FC Porto eliminate Club Atlético de Madrid in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League round of 16, then scored in a 3-0 win at Atlético in the next season's group stage. In the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League, Hulk played in Porto's 2-1 victory at Sevilla in the round of 32 and in both legs of the semi-final defeat of Villarreal.

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