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.
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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.
• 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.
• 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.