Despite occupying the bottom two places in Group C, FC Zenit and SL Benfica still harbour qualifying hopes although neither can afford another defeat.
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Only five points separate the four teams in Group C and both FC Zenit and SL Benfica still harbour qualifying hopes even though they trail leaders Bayer 04 Leverkusen by five points.
• The 16 September fixture in Lisbon proved a happy homecoming for Zenit's Portuguese coach André Villas-Boas and his three former Benfica players as Hulk and Axel Witsel scored in a 2-0 win.
• The lineups in Stadion Petrovski on 15 February 2012 were:
Zenit:Zhevnov, Anyukov, Bruno Alves, Lombaerts, Hubočan, Denisov, Kanunnikov (Bystrov 66), Shirokov, Zyryanov (Semak 46), Fayzulin (Rosina 89), Kerzhakov.
Benfica: Artur, Maxi Pereira, Luisão, Garay, Emerson, Matić, Gaitán (Miguel Vítor 90), Witsel, Bruno César (Nolito 76), Rodrigo, Cardozo.
• Roman Shirokov scored twice with Sergei Semak also on target for the home team while Maxi Pereira and Óscar Cardozo replied for Benfica.
• Zenit have never lost at home to visitors from Portugal, their record reading W4 D2 L0.
• The St Petersburg club are in their fifth group stage campaign and last season finished second with six points – the lowest total for a team progressing in UEFA Champions League history – to qualify for the knockout rounds for only the second time.
• On matchday two Benfica lost 3-1 at Leverkusen and then drew 0-0 at Monaco. Their first victory in the section came in the return with the French side when Talisca scored the only goal late on.
• Benfica's only victory in six attempts in Russia came in October 1996, 3-2 at FC Lokomotiv Moskva in the second leg of their UEFA Cup Winners' Cup second-round tie. João Pinto, scorer of the only goal in the first leg, struck the winner with three minutes left.
• They have lost three of those six games, drawing two.
• The Portuguese champions, European Cup winners in 1960/61 and 1961/62, are in their tenth UEFA Champions League group stage campaign. In only one of their last six campaigns (2011/12) have they qualified for the knockout rounds; on the other five occasions they finished third to move into the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League.
• After switching to the UEFA Europa League last season, the Eagles reached the final for the second successive year, drawing 0-0 with Sevilla FC in Turin but losing 4-2 on penalties.
Coach and player links
• Villas-Boas faced Benfica on seven occasions while coach at Porto and A. Académica de Coimbra, winning four games and losing three.
• 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, 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.
• Javi García is a yellow card away from a suspension.
• Hulk's first goal in five games was enough for Zenit to end a three-match losing run at home with a 1-0 win against FC Kuban Krasnodar on Saturday. With PFC CSKA Moskva losing, the St Petersburg outfit are now eight points clear at the summit.
• Villas-Boas's side's 13-match unbeaten Premier-Liga run ended when they lost 3-1 at home to FC Terek Grozny on 8 November.
• Nicolas Lombaerts scored his third international goal as Belgium defeated Iceland 3-1 in a friendly on 12 November.
• Aleksandr Kerzhakov – Russia's all-time top scorer – was on target in Fabio Capello's team's 2-1 friendly win in Hungary six days later.
• Yuri Lodygin was named Zenit's player of the month for October following a poll on the club website.
• Lisandro completes a two-game ban on matchday five. Salvio, Pérez and Andreas Samaris are all a booking away from a suspension.
• Holders Benfica booked a place in the Portuguese Cup round of 16 with a 4-1 home win against FC Moreirense on Saturday.
• Ola John featured on Saturday on his return from a muscle injury that has kept him out since 18 October.
• Jonas, not in Benfica's UEFA Champions League squad, scored twice against Moreirense having struck the winner on 9 November as the Eagles prevailed 2-1 at CD Nacional. Jorge Jesus's men had fallen behind in the first minute.
• Benfica are unbeaten at home in the Liga since a 3-2 loss to FC Porto on 2 March 2012.
• Amorim (knee) and Sílvio (leg) remain sidelined.
• Talisca, the eight-goal top scorer in the Portuguese Liga, was called up to the Brazil squad for their friendlies against Turkey and Austria but did not play.
• Gaitán (June 2018) and Almeida (June 2019) extended their contracts earlier this month.