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Porto prepare for Hulk homecoming

Hulk returns to the club where he spent four seasons when his FC Zenit side visit FC Porto with both clubs in need of a boost in UEFA Champions League Group G.

Hulk heads back to Porto with Zenit on matchday three
Hulk heads back to Porto with Zenit on matchday three ©Getty Images

An old favourite returns to the Estádio do Dragão when FC Porto host FC Zenit on matchday three.

• This Group G fixture provides a homecoming for Zenit striker Hulk, who spent four years at Porto between 2008 and 2012. The Brazilian is not the only one who should feel at home at the Estádio do Dragão given that Zenit have won at this venue already this season in their play-off against FC Paços de Ferreira.

Previous meetings
• Zenit got the better of Porto when the sides met in the 2011/12 group stage. Luciano Spalletti's men won 3-1 at home on matchday two, overturning James Rodríguez's tenth-minute goal with strikes from Roman Shirokov (20, 63) and Danny (72). Porto played the entire second period with ten men after Jorge Fucile's sending-off.

• When the clubs reconvened in Porto on matchday six, Vítor Pereira's home side needed to win to qualify while Zenit required only a point. The eventual 0-0 draw left the Russian visitors in second place in the section, a point better off than Porto. Hulk played for Porto in both games.

• The teams in Porto on 6 December 2011 were:
Porto: Helton, Maicon, Rolando, Otamendi (Belluschi 82), Álvaro Pereira, Defour (Kléber 46), Fernando, João Moutinho, Djalma (Varela 68), Hulk, James Rodríguez.
Zenit: Malafeev, Anyukov, Hubočan, Lombaerts, Criscito, Semak, Denisov, Shirokov (Zyryanov 46), Fayzulin (Bystrov 58), Lazović (Bruno Alves 82), Danny.

Match background
• Porto won all four home fixtures in last season's UEFA Champions League and will be looking to rediscover that form after losing to Club Atlético de Madrid at the Estádio do Dragão last time out.

• Zenit are still seeking a first Group G victory having lost at Atlético and then drawn at home with FK Austria Wien.

• Zenit did win 4-1 away to Paços in the first leg of their play-off in August, with Roman Shirokov scoring a hat-trick at the Dragão against a side coached last season by Paulo Fonseca. It was their first victory in Portugal and the platform for an 8-3 aggregate triumph.

• Aside from their 0-0 draw at Porto two seasons ago, Zenit's other visits to Portugal ended in defeat. They went down 2-0 at SL Benfica in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16 and 4-3 at CD Nacional in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League play-offs, suffering eventual elimination both times.

• Porto have never lost against visitors from Russia, although they have posted three 0-0 draws in five matches. Their only two previous home successes both came during their triumphant 2010/11 UEFA Europa League campaign when they beat PFC CSKA Moskva 2-1 in the round of 16 and FC Spartak Moskva 5-1 in the quarter-finals, Silvestre Varela scoring one of the goals in the latter match.

Team ties
• Hulk scored 54 goals in 99 league appearances with Porto, where he won three Portuguese league titles and the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League.

• Spalletti has encountered Portuguese opposition before in the UEFA Champions League group stage, guiding AS Roma to a 2-1 home victory and 2-2 away draw against Sporting Clube de Portugal in 2007/08.

• Axel Witsel spent 2011/12 in Portugal with Benfica, making 29 league appearances and scoring once. He faced Porto twice, drawing 2-2 at the Estádio do Dragão but losing 3-2 at home.

• Danny earned one win, one draw and one defeat against Porto while at CS Marítimo between 2001 and 2004.

• Luís Neto suffered a 5-0 defeat with CD Nacional on his last visit to Porto for a domestic league fixture on 23 October 2011.

• Varela appeared as a substitute in Portugal's 1-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying loss last October away to a Russia side including Aleksandr Anyukov, Vladimir Bystrov, Viktor Fayzulin, Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Shirokov. Kerzhakov scored the only goal.

• Steven Defour and Eliaquim Mangala are former R. Standard de Liège colleagues of Witsel. Defour, playing alongside Witsel, suffered a 4-1 aggregate defeat by Zenit with Standard in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup first round. Defour and Witsel lined up against their Belgian international colleague Nicolas Lombaerts as well as Anyukov, Andrey Arshavin and Konstantin Zyryanov.

• Defour faced Arshavin, Kerzhakov, Shirokov and Zyryanov when helping Belgium win 2-0 at Russia in a November 2010 friendly.

• In August 2009 Nicolás Otamendi featured for Argentina in a 3-2 friendly win at a Russia team including Arshavin, Anyukov, Denisov, Kerzhakov and Zyryanov.

• Marat Izmailov has been a national-team colleague of Zenit's Russia contingent and there are other players with similar international connections in this fixture: Silvestre Varela, Josué and Licá with Danny and Neto (Portugal); Danilo and Alex Sandro with Hulk (Brazil); Otamendi and Lucho González with Cristian Ansaldi (Argentina).

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