Zenit v Dundalk background

Zenit are the form team in the UEFA Europa League group stage this season and can confirm their progress with two games to spare when they welcome Dundalk.

Dundalk's Patrick McEleney is pressurised by Zenit forward Artem Dzyuba
Dundalk's Patrick McEleney is pressurised by Zenit forward Artem Dzyuba ©AFP/Getty Images

Zenit have made a storming start in UEFA Europa League Group D and will be certain of a place in the round of 32 if they avoid defeat against Irish champions Dundalk.

Previous meetings
The Russian team came from behind to win 2-1 when the clubs met for the first time in UEFA competition on matchday three.

• Only seven games have been played between Russian and Irish sides in UEFA club competition, with the Russians winning six to the Irish representatives' one.

• Dublin outfit Shamrock Rovers lost 3-0 at home and 4-1 away to Rubin Kazan in their pioneering 2011/12 UEFA Europa League campaign.

Form guide
• Zenit, Shakhtar Donetsk and Schalke come into matchday four with nine points.

Highlights: Dundalk 1-2 Zenit
Highlights: Dundalk 1-2 Zenit

• Zenit are the group stage's top scorers with 11 goals – an average of 3.67 per game.

• Zenit are 15 home matches unbeaten in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League (W13 D2) since a 1-0 quarter-final defeat by Bayer Leverkusen in April 2008. They have never lost a UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League group stage home fixture (W7 D3).

• Dundalk have not won in four European away games this term, though three of those fixtures ended in creditable draws.

• UEFA Cup winners in 2008, Zenit have progressed in three of their four previous UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League group campaigns. In 2010/11 they won all six matches.

• Dundalk are making their UEFA group stage debut. The lone Irish side to have previously graced a UEFA Europa League group stage were Shamrock Rovers, who lost all six of their fixtures in 2011/12. Dundalk were thus the first Irish side to draw, and then win, a UEFA group stage match at this level.

Links and trivia
• The journey from Dundalk to St Petersburg is about 2,300km.

Zenit's Giuliano has three group stage goals to his name
Zenit's Giuliano has three group stage goals to his name©AFP/Getty Images

• This will be Zenit's 150th UEFA club competition game; the previous 149 ended W77 D28 L44.

• Zenit boast two of the group stage's three-goal top scorers in Giuliano and Aleksandar Kokorin. Giuliano leads the golden boot race since he has the most assists: four.

• Dundalk clinched a third consecutive Irish title on 23 October, with a 2-1 win against Bohemians guaranteeing them top spot with two games to spare. They will secure a second successive double if they beat Cork City in the Irish Cup final on 6 November.

• Dundalk defender Brian Gartland turns 30 the day after the match.

The coaches
• Mircea Lucescu took charge of Zenit this summer, the 71-year-old Romanian ending a 12-year spell at Shakhtar in which he picked up eight Ukrainian titles and the 2008/09 UEFA Cup. He previously won Turkish championships with Beşiktaş and Galatasaray.

• Lucescu is the most experienced coach in the 2016/17 competition; this will be his 218th UEFA club fixture.

• Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny started his managerial career with Longford Town, aged 27, and landed a league title with Bohemians in 2002/03, aged 32. Hired by Dundalk in 2013, he steered the club to Irish championships in 2014 and 2015.