Zenit St Petersburg will host Benfica for the second leg of the Champions League knockout round of 16 tie at the Stadion Petrovskij on Wednesday. The match kicks off at 17:00 GMT. You can can watch the live stream at BT Sports.
Zenit is 1-0 down in their round-of-16 tie against Benfica, following Jonas’ injury-time goal at the Estadio da Luz in February.
Zenit is in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the third time in the last five seasons but so far never made it into the last eight of Europe’s elite club competition.
The Russian team boasts of an impressive home Champions League record this season, winning all three group matches and conceding just two goals.
With the squad boosted by the January arrivals of Aleksandr Kokorin, Yuri Zhirkov and Mauricio, the Portuguese coach Villas-Boas is hoping to make history in 2016.
“We are confident that we can score the necessary goals. The quarter-finals of the Champions League is our dream. It will be a major event for Russian football. And of course, this special emotion will help us on Wednesday,” he said.
“In the return leg, we have such an advantage. By that, I mean our fans. I am sure it will be a full stadium and they will create the atmosphere that will help the team to a new level.”
However, the Russians on the account of the winter break may lack match sharpness as many Eastern European clubs find it hard to return to action after a hard winter. Zenit played their first match of the 2016 Russian Premier League which ended with a goalless draw against FK Krasnodar on Saturday.
Benfica, on the other hand, will head into this match in high spirits after winning against Sporting Lisbon in their domestic tournament, taking by storm the top of the Primeira Liga. It was the 12th victory in 13 matches for Benfica, who have lost only once since mid-December after they were beaten 2-1 at home by Porto last month.
Benfica, however, is missing injured centre-backs Luisao and Lisandro Lopez. The Brazilian captain has a broken arm and his Argentine partner in central defense has a lower back problem. Also, their usual replacements, Jardel and full-back Andre Almeida are suspended, so fourth choice Victor Lindelof is set to step into one of the vacant spots, with defensive midfielder Andreas Samaris likely filling the other.
Adding to the Portuguese club’s defensive worries is goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who is out with a thigh strain, so Ederson is set to deputise.
Zenit and Benfica had played against each other five times in the UEFA Champions League with the Russians winning in three of them and losing the other two. The teams were drawn together in the group stages of 2013/14 season with Zenit winning both ties.
Moreover, the Russian crew has never lost a home game against Benfica, winning both of their previous meetings by a one-goal margin (3-2 in 2012 and 1-0 in 2014).
Here is all you need to know about the match:
Championship: UEFA Champions League
Match: Zenit Saint Petersburg vs Sport Lisboa e Benfica
Day: Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Venue: Petrovskiy Stadium, St. Petersburg
Kick off: 17:00 GMT
TV: BT Sports Europe
Live Stream: BT Sports
Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)
Zenit: Yuri Lodygin, Igor Smolnikov, Ezequiel Garay, Nicolas Lombaerts, Aleksandr Anyukov, Lu?s Neto, Axel Witsel, Hulk, Danny, Oleg Shatov, Artyom Dzyuba
Benfica: Ederson de Moraes, S?lvio Pereira, Nelson Semedo, Victor Lindelof, Eliseu, Andreas Samaris, Renato Sanches, Pizzi, Nicol?s Gait?n, Jonas Oliveira, Konstantinos Mitroglou