Zenit St Petersburg - AC Milan Preview: The big-spending Russians face a troubled Rossoneri
Zenitchiki have been in crisis of late since adding the high-profile Hulk and Axel Witsel to their squad, while Massimiliano Allegri's side are well off the pace in Serie A
Anyukov, B. Alves, Lombaerts, Criscito
Shirokov, Zyryanov, Denisov
Bystrov, Kerzhakov, Hulk
Abate, Zapata, Mexes, De Sciglio
De Jong, Montolivo, Nocerino
El Shaarawy, Pazzini
Zenit will be looking to recover their form after a stunning 3-0 loss in Malaga on matchday one, and they continue without playmaker Danny, who remains a long-term casualty after suffering knee ligament damage in December of last year.
Axel Witsel, the expensive summer arrival from Benfica, is battling to be fit to make his European bow for the Russian giants, while Sergei Semak and Tomas Hubocan are also rated as touch and go to be considered for a starting berth.
Igor Denisov and Alexander Kerzhakov, who were recently jettisoned to the reserves for outspoken remarks regarding the acquisitions of Hulk and Witsel on significant salaries, are in contention to return to the side, with the latter appearing from the bench in the weekend draw with Lokomotiv Moscow.
The injury-plagued Alexandre Pato remains out of action for AC Milan, as they look to breathe some life into their dwindling campaign, while Sulley Muntari and Mathieu Flamini are also doubts.
With Milan drawing against Anderlecht on Matchday 1, a positive result for Massimiliano Allegri's side is imperative, particularly with the derby against neighbours Inter to come on Sunday.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Zenit have not been beaten at home in European competition since succumbing to a 2-1 defeat against Real Madrid in 2008 - a run of 16 games.
- The Russians' last fixture against Italian opposition came against Udinese in 2008-09 in the Uefa Cup, eventually losing 2-1 on aggregate.
- Both Zenit and AC Milan were among 10 sides who failed to score on Matchday 1; Zenit fell 3-0 to Malaga, while Milan drew 0-0 with Anderlecht.
- AC Milan have not won away from home in the Champions League since defeating Auxerre 2-0 in November 2010.
- El Shaarawy (pictured) has scored four times in Milan's last three matches, and he is the only player to score for the club in their last five outings.
- Milan lost three of their first four matches in Serie A this season - the first time since 1940-41 they recorded such a record.
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Top 3 Predictions
Zenit Saint Petersburg 0-2 AC Milan
- 19.19 %
Zenit Saint Petersburg 1-2 AC Milan
- 17.03 %
Zenit Saint Petersburg 0-1 AC Milan
- 8.51 %
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Dec 4, 2012||AC Milan 0 - Zenit Saint Petersburg 1|
|UEFA Champions League (UCL)||Oct 3, 2012||Zenit Saint Petersburg 2 - AC Milan 3|
|Zenit Saint Petersburg|
|Dec 6, 2013||Zenit Saint Petersburg 2 - Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast 1||RUS1|
|Dec 1, 2013||Terek 1 - Zenit Saint Petersburg 1||RUS1|
|Nov 26, 2013||Zenit Saint Petersburg 1 - Atletico Madrid 1||UCL|
|Nov 22, 2013||Zenit Saint Petersburg 0 - Rostov 2||RUS1|
|Nov 10, 2013||Spartak 4 - Zenit Saint Petersburg 2||RUS1|
|34||Nigel De Jong||Midfielder|
|92||Stephan El Shaarawy||Striker|
The powerful Brazilian has arrived on massive wages and is expected to help Zenit make the next step in the Champions League, and he will need to hit the ground running in order to justify his exorbitant price tag.
|Stephan El Shaarawy|
The impressive attacker has represented one of Milan's few bright spots in an otherwise miserable season so far, and has offered a threat in front of goal that Massimiliano Allegri's side have been sorely lacking. He will be required again on Wednesday if the Italians are to leave Russia with a positive result.
Milan have rallied in recent games after a poor start to the season, while Zenit are attempting to retain harmony in the ranks following the acquisitions of Hulk and Witsel. But the Rossoneri have an awful recent record in the competition, and the Russians should have enough to claim a valuable victory.