Phillip Cocu says he is looking forward to seeing how PSV Eindhoven measure up against FC Zenit as the runaway Dutch leaders seek to steal a march in the last 32.
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• André Villas-Boas says Memphis Depay can beat anyone at the moment
• Zenit set for first match since 9 December when they lost 2-0 in Monaco
• PSV have won their last nine league games, scoring 25 goals in the process
• Defender Karim Rekik misses out with a hamstring problem
The best team in the Netherlands take on the top side in Russia as in-form PSV Eindhoven attempt to steal a march on an FC Zenit outfit preparing for their first game of 2015.
Since PSV slipped to a 1-0 home defeat by FC Dinamo Moskva in their final match of UEFA Europa League Group E, Phillip Cocu's charges have been in irresistible form. A run of nine successive league wins has established a 12-point lead at the Eredivisie summit and a first title since 2007/08 looks theirs for the taking.
Zenit are seven points clear in Russia but crucially, while PSV have been pulling up trees over the winter, their round of 32 opponents have been rooted – having not played a competitive fixture since 9 December. Cocu is not being complacent, though, and reckons Thursday's opponents "will be ready, for sure". His team will have to be at their best.
"Zenit are full of quality individuals and they are physically strong, a mature team who pose a real threat on the counter," said the 44-year-old. "We cannot give them any chances and we have to take any that come our way. We are up against an opponent with a lot of experience. They played in the Champions League in the autumn and we are looking forward to seeing how we measure up to them."
Cocu will be without Karim Rekik, an ever-present during this UEFA Europa League campaign, due to a hamstring injury. It is man of the moment Memphis Depay who is André Villas-Boas's biggest concern, the Portuguese admitting that right now the young forward can beat anyone in a one-on-one.
"There is a lot of teamwork behind him," added the Zenit boss, who confirmed that Russia striker Aleksandr Kerzhakov will not feature. "At the moment PSV are having a spectacular spell, not only in terms of results but in how they are getting them. They are persistent, attacking and true to the philosophy of PSV and Dutch football.
"It is all good news for them and bad for us as it is our first competitive game of 2015. It is difficult to hit the ground running and immediately get into the rhythm – but we will do our best. We are here with our best possible team and I will select our best possible XI."