FC Zenit St. Petersburg face Rangers FC in their first major final with the UEFA Cup bringing Ibrox managers past and present together at the City of Manchester Stadium.
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FC Zenit St. Petersburg arrive in Manchester aiming to take the final step towards claiming their first European trophy. Blocking their path are a Rangers FC side eager to recreate a slice of history by overcoming Russian opponents once again in the final of a continental competition.
• Thirty-six years after beating FC Dinamo Moskva 3-2 in Barcelona to win the 1971/72 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, the Scottish club now have the UEFA Cup in their sights in a final that pits them against their former manager Dick Advocaat. The Dutchman guided Rangers to domestic titles in 1999 and 2000 but, as coach of Zenit, is now charged with plotting their downfall at the City of Manchester Stadium.
• While Zenit have broken new ground by reaching a European final, this is Rangers' fourth. Their 1972 triumph against Dinamo was a case of third-time lucky for the Ibrox team, following earlier Cup Winners' Cup final defeats by ACF Fiorentina in 1960/61 and FC Bayern München in 1966/67.
• Rangers, whose European campaign began back on 31 July in the UEFA Champions League's second qualifying round, can expect noisy backing in the City of Manchester Stadium given their supporters have only a 350km journey south of the border from Glasgow. It is in stark contrast with their Zenit counterparts for whom a flight to England takes them over 2,000km across the breadth of Europe.
• The Rangers fans will be hoping to see their side land Scottish football's fourth European honour – and the first in 25 years. In addition to Rangers' own previous success, Celtic FC held aloft the European Champion Clubs' Cup in 1966/67 while Aberdeen FC captured the now-defunct Cup Winners' Cup in 1982/83.
• A Rangers victory, moreover, would ensure a Scottish triumph in each of the three major UEFA club competitions – the European Cup, the UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup. Only six nations can presently claim that honour: Italy, Spain, England, Netherlands, Germany and Portugal.
• Two Scottish teams have lost UEFA Cup finals – Dundee United FC in 1986/87 and Celtic in 2002/03.
• Zenit, for their part, are aiming to follow in the footsteps of PFC CSKA Moskva who beat Sporting Clube de Portugal 3-1 in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup final in Lisbon to become the first Russian club to lift European silverware.
• The ten finals between 1997/98 and 2006/07 were largely high-scoring affairs – averaging 3.9 goals per match – but Rangers might have other ideas. Walter Smith's men have scored just five times in eight games en route to Manchester and no team has ever got to the final with fewer. That said, their goal-per-game ratio is still better than that of the Fiorentina side who reached the 1989/90 final after scoring only six in ten.
• Those hoping for goals will want no repeat of the only previous UEFA final held in Manchester, the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League decider between Juventus and AC Milan at Old Trafford which finished scoreless after 120 minutes.
• Rangers will want to avoid a repeat of the result on their one previous visit to Manchester: a 3-0 loss to Manchester United FC in the UEFA Champions League group stage in November 2003. Their only victory in four attempts on English soil came at Leeds United AFC in the 1992/93 UEFA Champions League second round. That 2-1 success, which completed a 4-2 aggregate triumph, included a goal from Ally McCoist, now assistant manager at Ibrox.
• Zenit have already lost once in England this season, succumbing 1-0 at Everton FC in their final group stage game. The Russian team lost by the same score at Bolton Wanderers FC in the 2005/06 group stage.
• This is the first official meeting between Rangers and Zenit, although Advocaat took his side to Ibrox for a friendly on 24 August 2006 that formed part of the terms of Fernando Ricksen's switch between the clubs.
• Zenit ran out 4-1 winners that day against a Rangers team then under the charge of Paul Le Guen. Lee Ho and Igor Denisov put Zenit 2-0 in front and after Gavin Rae had replied for the hosts, Aleksandr Kerzhakov and Oleksandr Spivak added further goals.
• The teams for that match were:
Rangers: Allan McGregor, Alan Hutton, Karl Svensson (Antoine Ponroy 60), Brahim Hemdani, Charles Adam, Libor Sionko (Kris Boyd 72), Makhtar N'Diaye, Gavin Rae, Thomas Buffel (Chris Burke 60, replaced by Lee Martin 64), Filip Šebo, Nacho Novo (William Stanger 81).
Zenit: Kamil Čontofalský, Fernando Ricksen (Aleksandr Anyukov 72), Igor Križanac (Martin Škrtel 84), Erik Hagen (Kim Dong Jin 45), Pavel Mareš, Igor Denisov, Vladislav Radimov (Oleksandr Spivak 45), Lee Ho (Andrei Nagumanov 72), Radek Šírl (Hyun Yun Min 45), Andrei Arshavin (Olexandr Gorshkov 45), Aleksandr Kerzhakov.
• Advocaat actually replaced Smith when the latter ended his first spell as Rangers manager in summer 1998. The former Netherlands coach was hugely successful in his first two campaigns in Scotland, guiding a rebuilt team to the domestic treble in 1998/99 and then the league-and-cup double the following year, when Rangers finished a record 21 points clear of Celtic.
• The next two terms proved less successful, and Advocaat accepted a new position as the club's technical director - with Alex McLeish taking over as manager - before the end of his final campaign in 2001/02.
• Advocaat gave Barry Ferguson his European debut in one of his first games in charge, a 5-3 UEFA Cup first qualifying round win against Shelbourne FC in a game played at Tranmere Rovers FC's Prenton Park stadium on 22 July 1998. A decade later and no Scottish player has made more UEFA club competition appearances than the Rangers captain.
• Besides Advocaat, Rangers are up against another old face in Ricksen. The Dutchman spent six years at Ibrox, arriving from AZ Alkmaar in summer 2000 and winning Scottish Premier League titles in 2002/03 and 2004/05. He left in August 2006 for Zenit, initially on loan, with the deal becoming permanent later that year.
• Another player to have represented both clubs is Oleg Salenko, the former Russia striker. He started his career at what was then Zenit Leningrad in the 1980s and after setting a FIFA World Cup finals record in 1994 by scoring five goals in one game against Cameroon, he joined Rangers for a six-month spell from Valencia CF in 1995.
• This is Zenit's first encounter with a Scottish side but Rangers have faced Russian opponents ten times previously, their overall record reading W7 D2 L1.
• Their most famous meeting with a Russian team was the first: the 1971/72 Cup Winners' Cup final against Dinamo Moskva. Willie Waddell's Rangers took a 3-0 lead at Camp Nou, Colin Stein's 24th-minute opener being followed by two goals either side of half-time from Willie Johnston. Dinamo rallied with substitute Vladimir Eshtrekov and Aleksandr Makhovikov scoring but Rangers held on to win 3-2.
• Unfortunately for Rangers, their victory prompted a pitch invasion by excitable supporters and captain John Greig had to receive the trophy in the dressing room as Spanish police tangled with fans.
• UEFA subsequently banned Rangers from its competitions for two years, although that punishment was reduced to one year on appeal. Either way, they were unable to defend their title the following season.
• The teams for that match on 24 May 1972 were:
Rangers: Peter McCloy, William 'Sandy' Jardine, William Mathieson, John Greig, Derek Johnstone, David Smith, Thomas McLean, Alfred Conn, Colin Stein, Alexander McDonald, Willie Johnston.
Dinamo: Vladimir Pilgui, Vladimir Basalaev, Oleg Dolmatov, Valeri Zikov, Vladimir Dolbonsov (Mikhail Gershkovich 68), Evgeni Zhukov, Anatoli Baidachny, Andrei Yakubik (Vladimir Eshtrekov 56), József Szabó, Aleksandr Makhovikov, Gennadi Evriuzhikhin.
• Rangers fans seeking positive omens may note that then as now, the Glasgow club beat Portuguese side Sporting en route to the final, and also triumphed against an Italian outfit.
• Besides that final in Spain, Rangers have played one other game against Russian opponents on neutral territory, when they overcame FC Anzhi Makhachkala 1-0 in a 2001/02 UEFA Cup first-round tie. With concerns about Rangers travelling to Makhachkala due to its proximity to war-torn Chechnya, UEFA decided to play the tie as a one-off encounter at the Wojska Polskiego Stadium in Warsaw on 27 September 2001.
• Ferguson was a scorer in a 7-2 aggregate win over Dinamo Moskva in a 2001/02 UEFA Cup second-round tie, finding the net in the 4-1 second-leg success in Russia.
• The Ibrox outfit have suffered disappointment against Russian teams. In 1992/93 they missed out on a place in the UEFA Champions League final when a frustrating home stalemate with PFC CSKA Moskva in their last group fixture combined with Olympique de Marseille's win at Club Brugge KV to send the French team through.
• They lost 3-2 on aggregate to CSKA in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. The 2-1 first-leg defeat in Moscow – Nacho Novo scored Rangers' goal – was the first by a Scottish team against Russian opposition.
• Rangers assistant manager McCoist scored a hat-trick in a 7-2 win at FC Alania Vladikavkaz in the qualifying round of the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League to help secure a 10-3 aggregate victory.
• Zenit midfielder Vladislav Radimov appeared for Russia against Scotland in qualifying for EURO '96™. He played the full 90 minutes of the countries' 1-1 draw in Glasgow and the last 20 minutes of the return, a 0-0 draw in Moscow.
• Zenit captain Anatoliy Tymoschuk has more recent experience of facing Scottish opponents with the Ukraine national team, featuring in both the 2-0 home win and 3-1 away defeat against Scotland in UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying. Tymoschuk lined up against Rangers' David Weir and Ferguson in both matches, while goalkeeper Neil Alexander was twice an unused substitute. Kris Boyd came on as a substitute in Kiev.
• Tymoschuk faced Celtic with his previous club side, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League group stage. Shakhtar won 3-0 at home, but Tymoschuk was sent off in the Glasgow return, a 1-0 reverse.
• Scottish clubs have had the better of encounters with Russian teams, their combined record reading W7 D5 L1.
• Russia and Scotland's two senior international meetings since the end of the Soviet Union both ended in draws.