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Zenit v Vardar background

Zenit have already sealed a place in the round of 32 and could wrap up first place in Group L on matchday five, while opponents Vardar can finish no higher than third.

Zenit could seal first place in Group L with a victory
Zenit could seal first place in Group L with a victory ©AFP/Getty Images

Zenit have already clinched their place in the round of 32 and could secure first place in Group L against a point-less Vardar, who are already eliminated.

Zenit can secure top spot in the group with a win – but only if Real Sociedad are defeated in the other group fixture away to Rosenborg.

Previous meetings
• The sides met for the first time in the opening fixture of the group, and Zenit spoilt Vardar's European group stage debut with a 5-0 win in Skopje. Aleksandr Kokorin led the rout with two early goals before Artem Dzyuba, Branislav Ivanović and Emiliano Rigoni also got in on the act.

• In their only previous tie against a Russian club, Vardar eliminated CSKA Moskva in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, holding on for a 1-1 home draw after a 2-1 success in Moscow.

• That win remains the only one for a Macedonian club in nine UEFA club competition meetings with Russian sides (D4 L4).

Form guide
• Zenit have never lost a home fixture in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, winning 15 and drawing one. Their biggest victory during that sequence was 5-0 against AZ Alkmaar in last season's group stage.

• Vardar won 2-1 at Fenerbahçe in this season's UEFA Europa League play-offs to reach the group stage; it was the club's only victory in their last 15 European away fixtures (D4 L10).

• Vardar are the only one of the 48 teams in this season's group stage to have zero points after four matches. They are in danger of becoming only the fifth club to lose all six games in a UEFA Europa League group.

• UEFA Cup winners in 2008, Zenit finished third in Russia last term. They have competed in either the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League group stage in every season since, and including, 2010/11, playing European football in the spring on each occasion.

• Domestic champions for a third season running in 2016/17, Vardar are the first club from FYR Macedonia to appear in the group stage of a major UEFA competition.

Highlights: Vardar 0-5 Zenit

Links and trivia
• The journey from Skopje to St Petersburg is around 2,100km.

• Zenit's Rigoni and Aleksandr Kokorin jointly lead the group stage scorers' chart with five goals apiece.

• Vardar have conceded 17 goals in the first four matchdays, six more than any other team in this season's group stage. The record for the most goals against in a UEFA Europa League group is held by Slovan Bratislava (20 in 2014/15).

• Suspended for next match if booked: Jigauri Jambuli, Hovhannes Hambardzumyan (Vardar).

The coaches
• Roberto Mancini took charge of Zenit in June 2017. A UEFA Cup Winners' Cup winner as a player with Sampdoria in 1989/90 and Lazio in 1998/99, he coached Internazionale Milano and Manchester City to league championships, and more recently claimed a Turkish Cup at Galatasaray.

• Cedomir Janevski returned to coach Vardar in August 2017, having previously served the Skopje team as a defender from 1982–89. He spent many of the intervening years in Belgium, where he played for and coached Club Brugge among others.