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Advocaat quick to burst Zenit bubble

FC Zenit St. Petersburg's Dick Advocaat told his players they have "no reason to feel good", even if they go in to their home leg 4-1 up against Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

Pavel Pogrebnyak (left) is among six Zenit players one booking from a suspension
Pavel Pogrebnyak (left) is among six Zenit players one booking from a suspension ©Getty Images

FC Zenit St. Petersburg coach Dick Advocaat has told his players they have "no reason to feel good" even though they go into Thursday's home UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg 4-1 up against Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

Domestic slump
A stunning performance in Germany last week took Zenit one step closer to emulating PFC CSKA Moskva's 2005 tournament victory. But they went into that away game having suffered a 3-1 home league defeat by FC Rubin Kazan and, on Sunday, the Russian champions lost a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at FC Shinnik Yaroslavl – leaving them seven points off top spot after just four matches. "After throwing away two points at the weekend there is no reason to feel good," Advocaat said.

The Dutchman, whose three-game touchline ban is now served, suggested that their European run, which already contains the scalps of Villarreal CF and Olympique de Marseille, may have sown the seeds for a shaky start to the Premier-Liga season. "We can make history in the UEFA Cup but that's no excuse for drawing against Shinnik – it's not a good result," Advocaat said, adding that his team are not through to their first continental semi-final yet. "In football, nothing is guaranteed. We will face a different side from a week ago and whatever happened last week is not important. Like last week, we need to defend well and to try to score goals, only this time we have something to hold on to."

Defensive woes
Yet with Kim Dong Jin ruled out for five to six weeks with a leg injury suffered in training, to follow the long-term loss of Nicolas Lombaerts with knee ligament damage, Advocaat is tackling a defensive crisis. "We have some serious injuries and we have to build a new defensive line," he said. "Defensively, we don't have so many players and if something happens we have no cover. That's why, since the beginning of the season, I have kept saying that we have to buy more players than we have so far. You can't expect everyone to stay fit." Moreover, defenders Ivica Križanac and Aleksandr Anyukov as well as midfielders Radek Šírl and Fernando Ricksen and strikers Pavel Pogrebnyak and Andrei Arshavin are all one booking away from a suspension.

Playing for pride
Leverkusen coach Michael Skibbe has only midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta on the injured list with a groin problem, although the Bundesliga side are expected to field some less prominent names as they rate their chances as "one per cent against Zenit's 99 per cent". Skibbe added: "I understand we have little chance of success, but we want to put on a good European performance and show the other face of Bayer. The first leg was the worst Leverkusen have ever played in Europe and we want to make amends."