Zenit inspired for immediate Portuguese reunion
Monday, January 2, 2012
Having eliminated FC Porto in their last fixture, for their first UEFA Champions League knockout round tie FC Zenit St Petersburg face more Portuguese opponents in SL Benfica.
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FC Zenit St Petersburg have an immediate reunion with Portuguese opponents as their first participation in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds pits them against SL Benfica.
• The Russian champions drew 0-0 at FC Porto on matchday six to finish second behind APOEL FC in Group G. For Benfica, this tie represents a first appearance in the knockout rounds since 2005/06; their last three campaigns all ended in the group stage.
• For the first meeting between the teams, Zenit will be looking to uphold their unbeaten home record against Portuguese opposition. In three fixtures they have won two and drawn the other.
• The most recent encounter came on 28 September when the Russian club beat Porto 3-1 with Roman Shirokov's two goals overturning James Rodríguez's early opener. Danny then secured the points 18 minutes from time.
• Zenit also drew 1-1 at home to CD Nacional in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League play-offs, losing 5-4 on aggregate, and beat Vitória SC 2-1 in the UEFA Cup group stage in October 2005.
• Benfica lost on their last visit to Russia, going down 2-0 at PFC CSKA Moskva in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup round of 32. That set up their only aggregate defeat by a Russian side with the home game ending 1-1.
• That CSKA loss ended a six-match unbeaten run home and away against Russian sides, Benfica having won three and drawn three before that defeat. Away from home they drew two and won one.
• A 1-0 defeat of FC Oţelul Galaţi enabled Benfica to finish as Group C winners having also won the reverse fixture in Bucharest. They also won at FC Basel 1893 and drew at Manchester United FC. It was the first time the two-time European champions had finished top of their UEFA Champions League group since 1995.
• With draws at Trabzonspor AŞ and FC Twente in this season's qualifying rounds Benfica have suffered only one defeat in their last nine European away games. That came in Portugal when fellow Liga side SC Braga won 1-0 to complete an away-goals triumph in last season's UEFA Europa League semi-finals after the Lisbon leg had ended 2-1 to the home side.
• The 1961 and 1962 European champions were last in this stage in 2005/06 when they beat then holders Liverpool FC 1-0 at home and 2-0 away with Luisão on the scoresheet in the first leg. Benfica's run came to an end in the quarter-finals when eventual champions FC Barcelona beat them 2-0 in Spain after the first game had ended scoreless.
• Apart from the win against Porto, Zenit also beat FC Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 at home and drew 0-0 with APOEL in Group G.
• They have an unbeaten home European record dating back to 30 September 2008 when Real Madrid CF won 2-1 in a UEFA Champions League group stage fixture. Including qualifying ties they have since gone 15 games without defeat, winning 11 and drawing four.
• Artur played for AS Roma in 2008/09 under Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti.
• Zenit's Bruno Alves and Danny and Benfica's Eduardo are team-mates with the Portuguese national team.
• Bruno Alves and Danny have both played club football in Portugal. Bruno Alves scored against Benfica in Porto's 3-1 win in 2009/10, one of four wins he celebrated in 13 matches. In five games against Benfica with CS Marítimo, Danny was on the winning side just once.
• Vyacheslav Malafeev has played for Russia against Portugal twice, his team losing 7-1 in a FIFA World Cup qualifier in Lisbon on 13 October 2004. Earlier the same year he came on as a second-half substitute against the host nation at UEFA EURO 2004 with Russia losing 1-0 in Lisbon; he conceded a second goal as Portugal won 2-0.
• Joan Capdevila played both legs as Villarreal CF were knocked out by Zenit on away goals in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup in the round of 32. Malafeev, Shirokov, Viktor Fayzulin, Konstantin Zyryanov and Aleksandr Anyukov played both legs for Zenit, with Nicolas Lombaerts featuring in the second game.
• Aleksandar Luković plays for Serbia with Nemanja Matić. Danko Lazović retired from international football last March.
• Lombaerts is a team-mate of Axel Witsel for Belgium.
• Eduardo and Domenico Criscito were team-mates at Genoa CFC in 2009/10.