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Benfica v Zenit background

SL Benfica welcome FC Zenit at the start of Group C with the visitors boasting a Portuguese coach in André Villas-Boas and three players who used to turn out for the Lisbon club.

The Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica will welcome back three former players in the Group C opener
The Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica will welcome back three former players in the Group C opener ©Getty Images

SL Benfica begin another UEFA Champions League campaign against a FC Zenit side who have a Portuguese at the helm and three former Benfica players.

Previous meetings
• Benfica beat Zenit 4-3 on aggregate in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League round of 16, a 2-0 home win overturning a 3-2 away defeat. Maxi Pereira scored in both legs with Nélson Oliveira also on target.

• The lineups in Lisbon on 6 March 2012 were:
Benfica: Artur, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Jardel, Emerson, Javi García, Bruno César, Witsel, Gaitán (Matić 72), Rodrigo (Nolito 62), Cardozo (Nélson Oliveira 80).
Zenit: Malafeev, Anyukov (Bruno Alves 53), Hubočan, Lombaerts, Criscito, Denisov, Bystrov (Lazović 46), Zyryanov (Fayzuin 70), Shirokov, Semak, Kerzhakov.

Match background


• Benfica recorded another 2-0 home victory against FC Spartak Moskva in the 2012/13 group stage. That maintained an unbeaten home record against Russian opposition which reads W4 D2 L0 with only one goal conceded.

• The Portuguese champions – European Champion Clubs' Cup winners in 1961 and 1962 – are in their tenth UEFA Champions League group stage campaign.

• Last season they finished third in their group having begun with a 2-0 home win over RSC Anderlecht, extending an unbeaten first-night record to four games (W2 D2). At home, they also drew 1-1 with Olympiacos FC before beating Paris Saint-Germain 2-1.

• In the UEFA Europa League, the Eagles reached the final for the second successive season, drawing 0-0 with Sevilla FC in Turin but losing 4-2 on penalties. At home they had recorded three wins and a draw.


• Zenit, runners-up in the 2013/14 Russian Premier League, are in their fifth group stage campaign.

• Last year they won 1-0 at FC Porto on matchday three with an Aleksandr Kerzhakov goal, drawing 1-1 with the Portuguese side at home.

• They also won 4-1 away at FC Paços de Ferreira in the 2013/14 play-offs first leg (8-3 on aggregate), their first victory in Portugal.

• Last season Zenit finished second in the group with six points – the lowest total for a team progressing to the next round in UEFA Champions League history. In the round of 16 they won 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund but lost 5-4 overall.

• They began 12 months ago with a 3-1 defeat at Club Atlético de Madrid. In all three previous campaigns they had also started with an away loss, and they lost at FK Austria Wien on matchday six, too.

• In this season's third qualifying round, Zenit beat AEL Limassol FC 3-0 at home to overturn a 1-0 away defeat. In the play-offs against R. Standard de Liège, they matched that home scoreline to complete a 4-0 aggregate win.

Player links
• Villas-Boas faced Benfica on seven occasions while coach at Porto and A. Académica de Coimbra, winning four matches and losing three.

• Axel Witsel (2011–12), Ezequiel Garay (2011–14) and Javi García (2009–13) have all played for Benfica.

• Hulk scored five goals in 12 appearances (W6 D3 L3) against Benfica while with Porto between 2008 and 2012.

• Luís Neto (Varzim SC, CD Nacional) and Danny (CS Marítimo, Sporting Clube de Portugal) have also had spells in Portugal.

• Benfica's Rúben Amorim, Nélson Oliveira, Eliseu, Pizzi and André Almeida, and Zenit's Luís Neto and Danny all play together for Portugal.

• Benfica's Lisandro, Nicolás Gaitán, Eduardo Salvio, Franco Jara, Enzo Pérez and Zenit's Ezquiel Garay are Argentina team-mates. Hulk and Júlio César play together for Brazil.

Match facts


• Benfica completed the clean sweep of domestic trophies in 2014 on 10 August, prevailing 3-2 on penalties after the Portuguese Super Cup against Rio Ave FC ended 0-0 following 120 minutes.

• Talisca scored a hat-trick on Friday – his first goals since arriving from EC Bahia this summer – in a 5-0 victory at Vitória FC.

• The Eagles are five matches unbeaten in 2014/15, conceding a solitary goal in that time.

• Benfica are 51 matches unbeaten at home in all competitions, since a 2-0 group stage loss to FC Barcelona on 2 October 2012.

• Benfica have not been defeated in the league at home since a 3-2 loss to FC Porto on 2 March 2012, a sequence of 41 games.

• Enzo Pérez played Argentina's last three games at the FIFA World Cup as they finished runners-up. He started the friendly rematch of the final against Germany on 3 September, which Argentina won 4-2, with Nicolás Gaitán (not in Brazil) coming on as a late substitute.

• Rúben Amorim was left out of Benfica's UEFA Champions League squad after suffering knee ligament damage in the 1-0 win at Boavista FC on 24 August.


• Viktor Fayzulin serves a one-game ban on matchday one.

• Zenit are on a ten-match winning run, keeping seven clean sheets in the process, since opening their campaign with a 1-0 defeat by AEL Limassol FC in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first leg.

• Igor Smolnikov had not scored since 1 October 2011 when he struck against FC Torpedo Moskva on 9 August. The defender was on target again on Saturday, scoring the last-minute winner as Zenit beat FC Dinamo Moskva 3-2 when Andrey Arshavin scored his first competitive goal since 22 October 2013.

• The St Petersburg outfit had gone 517 minutes without conceding before Mathieu Valbuena's breakthrough goal for Dinamo on Saturday.

• Hulk, who picked up a head injury late on against Dinamo, has scored seven goals in his last ten appearances for Zenit.

• Zenit beat Torpedo Moskva 8-1 on 9 August, equalling their best ever result in the Russian Premier League set against FC Luch-Energia Vladivostok in October 2008.

• Aleksandr Kerzhakov struck twice against Torpedo to become Zenit's record goalscorer with 160 goals in all competitions.

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