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Spalletti eyes happy return at San Siro

Luciano Spalletti returns to Italy with an FC Zenit St Petersburg side, who travel to AC Milan aiming to secure third place in Group C and entry into the UEFA Europa League.

Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti won on three of his four Serie A visits to Milan with Roma
Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti won on three of his four Serie A visits to Milan with Roma ©AFP/Getty Images

Luciano Spalletti returns to Italy as his FC Zenit St Petersburg side visit AC Milan for their concluding Group C fixture looking to seal third place and entry into the UEFA Europa League.

• Zenit are currently tied on four points with RSC Anderlecht, with whom they have an identical head-to-head record although Zenit hold the edge on goal difference, and they require a better result than the Belgian champions manage at Málaga CF to make sure of their progress.

• By contrast, Milan – who inflicted Zenit's first European home defeat since 2008 when winning 3-2 in Russia in October – are already sure of second place and a fourth successive last-16 appearance.

Match background
• Milan are looking for their first home victory in Group C having posted two draws to date. Zenit have lost both away fixtures without scoring; their only UEFA Champions League victory on the road in eight attempts came at FC BATE Borisov during their 2008/09 debut campaign.

• Zenit have never won in Italy, where they suffered two defeats in 2008/09. They fell 1-0 at Juventus in their first match in the UEFA Champions League in September 2008, then lost 2-0 at Udinese Calcio in the UEFA Cup round of 16 the following spring.

• Vyacheslav Malafeev, Aleksandr Anyukov, Danny, Igor Denisov, Viktor Fayzulin, Roman Shirokov and Konstantin Zyryanov featured in one or both of those games.

• The only time Zenit avoided defeat in Italy was in a 2-2 draw at Bologna FC in the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup first round, but they still lost the tie 5-2 overall.

• Milan last hosted Russian opponents in 2002/03 when beating FC Lokomotiv Moskva 1-0 in that season's second group stage, en route to winning the trophy. Prior to that they twice faced FC Spartak Moskva at San Siro in the 1970s, earning a draw and a win.

Team ties
• Spalletti and his Milan counterpart Massimiliano Allegri both played, at different times, for amateur side UC Cuoiopelli. Both from Tuscany, they were born 80km apart, in Certaldo and Livorno respectively.

• As coaches in Serie A, the pair crossed swords only in 2008/09. Spalletti's Roma beat Allegri's Cagliari Calcio 3-2 with a last-minute goal at the Stadio Olimpico and then came from two down to earn a 2-2 away draw.

• Spalletti has a record of three wins from four Serie A visits to Milan with Roma. His overall record against the Rossoneri with Roma was W5 D2 L1. Philippe Mexès was with him throughout his four years in Rome.

• With Udinese – where he was coach in 2001 and again from 2002 to 2005 – Spalletti's Serie A record against the Rossoneri was: W2 D2 L3.

• Spalletti also coached Empoli FC, UC Sampdoria, AC Venezia and AC Ancona in Italy.

• Domenico Criscito played for Genoa CFC and Juventus and was a team-mate of Marco Amelia and Stephan El Shaarawy at Genoa in 2009/10.

• Criscito has played for Italy alongside Ignazio Abate, Riccardo Montolivo, Antonio Nocerino and Giampaolo Pazzini.

• Shirokov (2) and Aleksandr Kerzhakov scored as Russia overcame Montolivo and Nocerino's Italy 3-0 in a Zurich friendly on 1 June. Denisov, Malafeev and Zyryanov also played for Russia.

• Kerzhakov was a substitute in the Sevilla FC side beaten 3-1 by Milan in the 2007 UEFA Super Cup.

• Aleksandar Luković spent four seasons with Udinese, including a loan spell at Ascoli Calcio. He played alongside Cristián Zapata in Udinese's 2008/09 tie against Zenit, appearing in the second leg.

• Sergei Semak and Mario Yepes were team-mates at Paris Saint-Germain FC from 2005 to 2006.

• Semak played in Russia's 1-0 reverse at Italy in a 1998 FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off. With PFC CSKA Moskva he lost 3-2 at Parma FC in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup first round despite scoring twice and was in the FC Rubin Kazan team beaten 2-0 by FC Internazionale Milano in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League group stage.

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