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Villas-Boas wants top spot for Zenit

His sights set on top spot in Group H now that qualification is secured, Zenit coach André Villas-Boas knows a Valencia side also eyeing the last 16 represent no easy task.

André Villas-Boas is determined that Zenit top their section
André Villas-Boas is determined that Zenit top their section ©AFP/Getty Images
  • Already through, Zenit will clinch first place in Group H with a draw
  • Valencia will progress if they win and Gent fail to beat Lyon
  • The Russian side are the only team in the group stage with a 100% record
  • Hulk scored twice as Zenit prevailed 3-2 in the reverse fixture on matchday one
  • Next games: Valencia v Lyon, Gent v Zenit (9 December)

Possible lineup
Zenit: Lodygin; Smolnikov, Garay, Lombaerts, Criscito; Yusupov, Witsel, Shatov, Danny; Hulk, Dzyuba.
Out: Anyukov (suspended), Javi García (suspended), Fayzulin (knee)

Valencia: Jaume; João Cancelo, Vezo, Abdennour, Gayà; Enzo Pérez, André Gomes, Parejo; Santi Mina, Feghouli, Alcácer.
Out: Diego Alves (knee), Mustafi (muscular), Barragán (muscular), Piatti (muscular), Rodrigo (knee), Negredo (appendicitis)
Doubtful: Javi Fuego (illness)

Watch Zenit qualify for the last 16
Watch Zenit qualify for the last 16

André Villas-Boas, Zenit coach
The most important thing for us is to win the match and go through as group winners. This is very important for us as it would mean playing at home in the second leg of our round of 16 tie. We have two attempts at getting the point we need. Our strategy will be no different to previous games – we will counterattack, we will keep a balance between defence and attack, and we will play to win. Valencia have plenty of motivation and will do everything they can to get the result they require.

Nuno Espírito Santo, Valencia coach
We have watched a lot of Zenit matches and we know the quality of their players and the style of their team. We are well prepared. We are already feeling [the cold] but we are ready for the weather and ready to face Zenit. Yes, we are missing some important players, but we have the reserves to plug these gaps.

To keep Hulk quiet we are going to have to work as a team, and be organised and focused. As usual, we need to work, we need to analyse and we need to start tuning in for the match. Zenit have a clear game plan – they play very quickly and move from defence to attack very effectively.

Highlights: Valencia 2-3 Zenit
Highlights: Valencia 2-3 Zenit

Weekend results
Zenit 3-0 Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast (Garay 12, Dzyuba 76, Javi García 89)
Ezequiel Garay and Javi García scored their first goals of the campaign. Zenit are within seven points of Premier-Liga leaders CSKA Moskva.

Valencia 1-1 Las Palmas (Paco Alcácer 8; Viera 57)
Valencia spurned the opportunity to close on the Spanish Liga's top four as Las Palmas held them to their first draw in 11 outings.

Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)
Zenit: WLWDWW
Valencia: DWLWLW

The best of matchdays three and four
The best of matchdays three and four

Reporter's view: Vladimir Bogachov (@UEFAcomVladimir)
With Oleg Shatov and Igor Smolnikov shaking off niggling injuries to appear in Saturday's 3-0 dismissal of Ural, Zenit seem to have a full squad available, and will look to exploit this luxury. A draw will confirm Villas-Boas's men as Group H winners, yet their big target is to become the second Russian club – after Spartak Moskva in 1995/96 – to win all six group stage games.

Did you know
Valencia emerged victorious on their last three trips to Russia, most recently when beating Kuban Krasnodar 2-0 in their 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group. Paco Alcácer and Sofiane Feghouli were the scorers. Find out more in our extensive match background.