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Malaga - Zenit Preview: Spanish club prepare for group stage debut
The Boquerones return to continental competition for the first time since 2003 against the reigning Russian champions, who will hope to improve on last year's last-16 exit
By Daniel Edwards
Sanchez, Demichelis, Weligton, Monreal
Joaquin, Isco, Portillo, Eliseu
Anyukov, Alves, Lombaerts, Yanbaev
Zyryanov, Denisov, Shirokov
Faizulin, Kerzhakov, Hulk
Having led his team to an impressive 3-1 victory over Levante at the weekend, Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini must decide whether to stick with the same players who have delivered 10 points in the opening four rounds of La Liga or rest weary legs. Argentine striker Javier Saviola netted for his new club on Saturday, and will vie with Roque Santa Cruz for a place in the starting line-up.
Brazil international Hulk appeared in the second half of Zenit's 2-0 capitulation at home to Terek, and the powerful forward will be hopeful of gaining the nod to start in attack as the Russians attempt to start their Champions League campaign on a positive note.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Malaga are making their first ever appearance in the Champions League group stages. The Andalusian club earned their passage with a 2-0 aggregate victory over Panathinaikos.
- The club's last taste of European football came in 2002-03, with a run to the Uefa Cup quarter-finals that ended with defeat to Boavista.
- If Javier Saviola makes an appearance on Tuesday he will have achieved the distinction of playing in the Champions League with five different clubs, having previously done so with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Monaco and Benfica.
- Zenit currently lie top of the Russian Premier League, having won five of their seven games to date with just one reverse, to Terek.
- The club lifted the Premier title in 2011-12 for the fourth success in their history; three of those having come after the takeover by energy giant Gazprom.
- New Zenit idol Hulk (pictured) completed a €40 million move from Porto at the start of September. The Brazilian netted four goals in six Champions League appearances during 2011-12, as the Dragao side exited at the group stage.
Top 3 Predictions
Malaga 1-2 Zenit
- 15.8 %
Malaga 2-0 Zenit
- 12.77 %
Malaga 1-1 Zenit
- 11.47 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||21 Nov 2012||Zenit 2 - Malaga 2|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||18 Sep 2012||Malaga 3 - Zenit 0|
|12 May 2013||Malaga 0 - Sevilla 0||LIGA|
|08 May 2013||Real Madrid 6 - Malaga 2||LIGA|
|04 May 2013||Granada 1 - Malaga 0||LIGA|
|28 Apr 2013||Malaga 2 - Getafe 1||LIGA|
|20 Apr 2013||Valencia CF 5 - Malaga 1||LIGA|
|9||Roque Santa Cruz||Striker|