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UEFA Champions League

  • September 18, 2012
  • • 19:45
  • • Estadio La Rosaleda, Málaga
  • Referee: M. Clattenburg
  • • Attendance: 23670
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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

  PROBABLE LINEUPS


MALAGA

Caballero
Sanchez, Demichelis, Weligton, Monreal
Camacho
Joaquin,
Isco, Portillo, Eliseu

Saviola
ZENIT

Malafyev
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.

Players to watch

J. Saviola

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0
The 30-year-old striker still has the goalscoring touch, as well as ample experience in the Champions League. His goals could prove vital to Malaga's attempts to make the last-16.

Hulk

Position: Attacker

Games: 10

  • 3
  • 3
  • 0
Signing the imposing forward was a major coup for Zenit, who fought off strong competition from Chelsea for the ex-Porto man's signature. Accomplished in front of the net, Hulk's power and intelligence also make him an invaluable team player going forward.

Editor's Prediction

Malaga will have to be at their best to beat a strong Zenit side bolstered by summer transfer activity; but with a solid performance, they should have enough to take something from their Champions League bow.

Last Five Matches

Zenit

  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Head To Head

Málaga

Zenit

Wins
1
1
0
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Málaga Club de Fútbol MAL
Málaga Club de Fútbol Málaga
Draw
FK Zenit St. Petersburg ZEN
FK Zenit St. Petersburg Zenit
39%
21%
40%

Top 3 Predictions

Málaga Club de Fútbol MAL
1 - 2
FK Zenit St. Petersburg ZEN
Málaga Club de Fútbol MAL
2 - 0
FK Zenit St. Petersburg ZEN
Málaga Club de Fútbol MAL
1 - 1
FK Zenit St. Petersburg ZEN

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