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Zenit v Anderlecht background

Zenit's first game of 2017 finished in defeat at Anderlecht, yet their 100% home record against Belgian clubs should nourish their hopes of recovering a 2-0 deficit in this tie.

Anderlecht have the edge but can they preserve it in St Petersburg on Thursday?
Anderlecht have the edge but can they preserve it in St Petersburg on Thursday? ©AFP/Getty Images

All may not be lost for Zenit in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 despite their first-leg reversal at Anderlecht. All six previous Belgian visitors to St Petersburg have been beaten, although the Brussels team have been sound travellers so far this season.

• Frank Acheampong's unanswered first-half brace secured the initiative for Anderlecht in this tie, and moved the two sides closer together in their overall head-to-head.

Previous meetings
• The clubs are meeting for a sixth time, Zenit having had the better of their first five encounters (W3 L2) though Anderlecht did reduce the arrears in the first leg.

• Luciano Spalletti's Zenit dispatched Ariel Jacobs' Anderlect 3-1 home and away in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League group stage.

Aleksandr Kerzhakov in action against Anderlecht in 2010
Aleksandr Kerzhakov in action against Anderlecht in 2010©Getty Images

• The teams for their Brussels encounter on 16 September 2010 – in which Aleksandr Kerzhakov hit a hat-trick for the visitors – were:
Zenit: Malafeev, Križanac, Fernando Meira, Lombaerts*, Bukharov (Kanunnikov 65), Danny*, Shirokov, Rosina (Huszti 73), Zyryanov, Luković (Hubočan 80), Ionov.
Anderlecht:
Proto, Mazuch, Lecjaks, Polák, Kanu, Legear (Suárez 46), Lukaku (De Sutter 77), Mareček (Badibanga 68), Kljestan, Juhász, Gillet.

• Kerzhakov scored again in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League group stage as Spalletti's Zenit overcame John van den Brom's Anderlecht 1-0 at home though they lost by the same scoreline in Brussels.

• The line-ups for that game on 6 November 2012 were:
Zenit: Malafeev, Anyukov*, Criscito*, Lombaerts*, Kerzhakov*, Hubočan, Shirokov (Bruno Alves 76), Fayzulin (Bystrov 58), Semak (Zyryanov 67), Witsel, Hulk.
Anderlecht: Proto, Deschacht*, Biglia, Kanu, Jovanović, Nuytinck*, Kouyaté, De Sutter, Praet (Yakovenko 73), Wasilewski (Molins 83), Gillet.

* registered to play for the club in this season's competition

• Zenit's 13 fixtures against Belgian clubs have ended W8 D1 L4. They have won all six home games against Belgian opponents.

• Anderlecht's 17 matches against Russian sides have ended W6 D3 L8 (W1 D2 L5 away).

Previous meetings: Anderlecht v Zenit
Previous meetings: Anderlecht v Zenit

Form guide
• Zenit have won all three European home fixtures this season, conceding just once in the process while scoring nine times.

• Zenit have never lost at home in the UEFA Europa League, winning 12 and drawing one (v Sevilla) of their 13 matches group stage to final. They also drew 1-1 against Nacional in a 2009/10 play-off.

• Anderlecht are unbeaten in four UEFA Europa League away fixtures this term (W2 D2).

• Zenit reached the UEFA Champions League round of 16 last year.

• Since lifting the UEFA Cup in 1983 – and losing the 1984 final – Anderlecht have not made it beyond the last eight of the competition.

Links and trivia
• The journey from Brussels to St Petersburg is around 1,900km.

Olivier Deschacht celebrates his birthday against Zenit
Olivier Deschacht celebrates his birthday against Zenit©AFP/Getty Images

• After drawing a blank at Anderlecht on 16 February, Zenit's six-goal forward Giuliano has been overtaken as this season's UEFA Europa League top scorer by both Athletic Club striker Aritz Aduriz (on seven goals) and Roma's Edin Džeko (eight). Giuliano has also laid on four assists, giving him a hand in ten Zenit goals.

• Zenit boast Belgian talent in centre-back Nicolas Lombaerts, who started out with Club Brugge before moving to Russia in 2007 after three years with Gent. Anderlecht's Olivier Deschacht, Youri Tielemans and Leander Dendoncker have played alongside Lombaerts for Belgium.

• Zenit's other Belgian star, midfielder Axel Witsel, moved to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian at the beginning of January.

• Anderlecht (1983) and Zenit (2008) are among seven former UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League winners in the round of 32, along with Tottenham Hotspur (1972, 1984), Borussia Mönchengladbach (1975 & 1979), Ajax (1992), Schalke (1997) and Shakhtar Donetsk (2009).

The coaches
• Mircea Lucescu arrived at Zenit last summer, the Romanian ending a 12-year stay with Shakhtar in which he picked up eight Ukrainian titles and the 2008/09 UEFA Cup. He previously collected Turkish championships with Beşiktaş and Galatasaray.

• Lucescu is the most experienced coach in the 2016/17 competition; this will be his 223rd UEFA club competition fixture.

• Capped once by Switzerland, René Weiler is in his first season as Anderlecht coach having spent his first two years of coaching abroad with Nürnberg in Germany from 2014–16. The one-time defender established his reputation in his home country with Schaffhausen and Aarau.

Penalty shoot-outs
• Zenit have yet to feature in a UEFA penalty shoot-out.

• Anderlecht have lost all three of their UEFA penalty shoot-outs:
L 4-1 A v Barcelona (1978/79 European Cup Winners' Cup second round)
L 4-3 A v Tottenham Hotspur (1983/84 UEFA Cup final)
L 3-2 H v Partizan (2010/11 UEFA Champions League play-offs)