Zenit will once again be relying on their formidable home record against early Group C leaders Slavia Praha.
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Zenit opened their Group C account with a 1-1 draw at FC København and will be hoping that their formidable home record in the UEFA Europa League continues against top-of-the-table Slavia Praha, 1-0 winners at home to Bordeaux on matchday one.
• Despite a wealth of European experience on both sides, Zenit have never faced Czech opposition and Slavia have yet to meet a club from Russia.
• Fifth in the 2017/18 Russian Premier League, Zenit's 12th successive European campaign began in the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, where they staged an astonishing second-leg comeback against Dinamo Minsk in St Petersburg, winning 8-1 after extra time in response to a shock 4-0 first-leg defeat in Belarus. Their play-off victory over Molde was also a tight call, a 3-1 home win preceding a 2-1 loss in Norway.
• This is Zenit's third successive appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage, and fourth in all. They have qualified for the knockout phase on each occasion, reaching the round of 16 last season before going out to RB Leipzig. The St Petersburg club lifted the UEFA Cup in 2008 and are one of six former champions in this season's group stage.
• Zenit have never lost at home in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, winning 17 of their 19 matches in St Petersburg, the only exceptions a 2-2 draw against Sevilla in the 2014/15 quarter-finals and 1-1 against RB Leipzig in last season's round of 16. Should they avoid defeat against Slavia, they will equal Sporting CP's competition record of 20 successive home games unbeaten.
• The St Petersburg club have won at home on matchday two in each of their three previous UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.
• As runners-up to Viktoria Plzeň in the 2017/18 Czech Liga, Slavia earned a spot in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, where defeat to Dynamo Kyiv (1-1 home, 0-2 away) sent them into the UEFA Europa League group stage. They also won the Czech Cup last term, defeating Jablonec 3-1 in the final.
• Slavia's two previous UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, in 2009/10 and 2017/18, both ended unsuccessfully, a shock matchday six home defeat to Astana ultimately halting their progress last season.
• The Prague club have won only one of their last 22 European away fixtures (D10 L11) – 2-0 at Maccabi Tel-Aviv in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage.
Links and trivia
• Branislav Ivanović (Zenit) and Miroslav Stoch (Slavia) played together for Chelsea in 2008/09.
• Stoch scored the only goal as Slovakia beat Russia 1-0 away in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier. Zenit's Róbert Mak is a fellow Slovakian international.
• Slavia's Tomáš Souček beat Zenit's Andrei Lunev to give the Czech Republic a consolation goal in a 5-1 friendly defeat against Russia in Rostov last month, with Zenit pair Anton Zabolotnyi and Aleksandr Erokhin among the scorers for the hosts.
• Sergei Semak took over as Zenit's head coach in May 2018 after an impressive 18-month tenure at FC Ufa that led to the club's first ever European qualification. The former Russia international midfielder had previously worked as an assistant coach at Zenit after ending his playing career there. His peak years on the field came at CSKA Moskva, where he skippered the club to Russian league and cup triumphs, though he left for Paris Saint-Germain midway through the 2004/05 season in which the Moscow club won the UEFA Cup.
• Heavily influenced by Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, Jindřich Trpišovský started out as a youth coach at Sparta Praha before impressing with his work at second-division Viktoria Žižkov despite financial problems. He then took over at Slovan Liberec in 2017, leading the club into the UEFA Europa League group stage two seasons running. He left Liberec for Slavia in December 2017 and won the Czech Cup with the Prague outfit the following spring.