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Zenit desperate for Málaga scalp

FC Zenit St Petersburg's Group C hopes are hanging by a thread when they host a high-flying Málaga CF side who require only a draw to wrap up first place in the section.

Manuel Pellegrini lost on his last visit to the Stadion Petrovski with Villarreal
Manuel Pellegrini lost on his last visit to the Stadion Petrovski with Villarreal ©Getty Images

The stakes are high for FC Zenit St Petersburg when they host Group C leaders Málaga CF at the Stadion Petrovski on matchday five.

• Bottom of the group with three points, Zenit need a victory. Should they fail to get one, they would be eliminated if AC Milan overcome RSC Anderlecht in the other matchday five game.

• There are no such worries for Manuel Pellegrini's unbeaten Málaga whose draw at Milan last time out secured their place in the last 16. Their 3-0 defeat of Zenit on matchday one was the launchpad for an impressive campaign from the Spanish newcomers who require just a point in Russia to secure top spot and emulate the feat of Pellegrini's Villarreal CF, who won their group as UEFA Champions League debutants in 2005/06.

Match background
• Zenit have had mixed fortunes at home this term, losing 3-2 to Milan but then beating Anderlecht 1-0 on matchday three.

• The Russian title holders have got the better of Pellegrini in St Petersburg before, having beaten his Villarreal side 1-0 in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup round of 32 – Pavel Pogrebnyak scoring – en route to an eventual away-goals triumph after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

• Zenit suffered their only home reverse against Spanish opposition when losing 2-1 to Real Madrid CF in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage. Danny scored for Zenit while Tomáš Hubočan was responsible for an own goal. Their overall home record against Liga visitors, including the 2-2 second-leg draw with RC Celta de Vigo in the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup final, is W2 D3 L1.

• Málaga have suffered only one defeat in 11 away games in UEFA competition. They won five and lost just one of eight away fixtures in their only previous European campaign – encompassing the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup and 2002/03 UEFA Cup – and this term have won at Anderlecht and drawn at Panathinaikos FC, in the play-offs, and Milan.

Team ties
• As AS Roma coach, Luciano Spalletti recorded 2-1 home and away wins against Real Madrid in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League round of 16. In the group stage a season earlier his Roma team lost 2-1 at Joaquín's Valencia CF but won the return 1-0.

• In only his second European tie as Villarreal coach, Pellegrini oversaw a 3-2 aggregate victory against FC Spartak Moskva in the UEFA Intertoto Cup third round in 2004.

• Vyacheslav Malafeev, Aleksandr Anyukov, Sergei Semak, Roman Shirokov and Konstantin Zyryanov were part of the Russia squad beaten twice by Spain at UEFA EURO 2008.

• Malafeev, Anyukov, Shirokov, Zyryanov, Viktor Fayzulin and Nicolas Lombaerts featured in Zenit's 2007/08 victory over Pellegrini's Villarreal. Shirokov was one of two Zenit players sent off in the second leg in Spain. Martín Demichelis's FC Bayern München went down 5-1 to Zenit in the semi-finals of the same campaign.

• With Sevilla FC in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup, Javier Saviola scored in a 2-1 group stage loss at Zenit, then struck twice when the teams met again in the quarter-finals and Sevilla prevailed 5-2 on aggregate, going on to win the competition. Saviola appeared as a substitute in two Real Madrid wins against Zenit in 2008/09 and watched from the bench as Benfica eliminated the Russian club in the 2011/12 round of 16.

• Aleksandr Kerzhakov played for Sevilla between 2006 and 2008, scoring eight goals in 26 Liga appearances and winning the UEFA Cup, Copa del Rey and Spanish Super Cup.

• With R. Standard de Liège, Axel Witsel earned a 1-0 home success against Sevilla in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage. Oguchi Onyewu was in the Standard side with Witsel.

• Hulk helped FC Porto eliminate Club Atlético de Madrid in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League round of 16, then scored in a 3-0 win at Atlético in the next season's group stage. In the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League, Hulk played in Porto's 2-1 victory at Sevilla in the round of 32 and in both legs of the semi-final defeat of Villarreal.

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