FC Zenit St. Petersburg attribute their successful UEFA Cup run to good discipline as they prepare to defend a one-goal lead against Olympique de Marseille.
FC Zenit St. Petersburg will take a one-goal lead into their UEFA Cup last-16 second leg against Olympique de Marseille, with their captain attributing their good form in European competition to improved discipline.
Discipline is key
Andrei Arshavin scored the only goal in southern France last week, his third strike of the Russian club's impressive run which started in the second qualifying round. Skipper Vladislav Radimov said: "We are more disciplined, we take fewer risks, and we give our opponents fewer chances in front of goal. As a result, we have not given away soft goals. I would also point out that there has been more discipline, not just in defence and midfield, but also from the forwards, Arshavin and [Aleksandr] Kerzhakov."
Not that Radimov is talking up his team's chances of emulating PFC CSKA Moskva's triumph in this competition last season. "We cannot afford to think about winning the trophy. We are focused on Marseille and I think CSKA did the same thing last season - they just thought about the next match."
Zenit, whose domestic campaign starts on Sunday, will be without injured goalkeeper Kamil Čontofalský. The Slovakian could be sidelined for four weeks, so Viacheslav Malafeev will continue to deputise. Marseille, 2-0 weekend winners against AS Saint-Etienne, also have goalkeeping concerns - a calf problem keeping out Fabien Barthez. Defender Bostjan Cesar is also injured (fractured skull), while Wilson Oruma and Franck Ribéry are suspended and Toifilou Maoulida and Mickaël Pagis ineligible.
Midfielder Sabri Lamouchi is under no illusions as to the size of the task facing the Ligue 1 side. "Our hopes are slender but they are hopes," he said. "We haven't come to Russia for sightseeing, even if the city is beautiful and culturally rich. We are here on a mission."