Riccardo Montolivo has also won a place in the starting XI ahead of Antonio Nocerino, despite an error-prone cameo during the 1-1 draw Parma on the weekend, where he conceded the free-kick that led to the Crociati’s equaliser.
Massimiliano Allegri makes two changes in defence, drafting in Luca Antonini and Daniele Bonera for Mattia De Sciglio and Mario Yepes respectively.
Meanwhile, for Zenit, midfielder Alex Witsel makes his first competitive start for the club after his high-profile €40 million move from Benfica over the summer.
Fellow big-money signing Hulk also makes his second Champions League appearance for his new club, lining up as part of a front three alongside Alexsandr Kerzhakov and Vladimir Bystrov.
There is no place, however, for Igor Denisov, who has been dropped to the reserves after criticizing the exorbitant fees involved in bringing the pair to the Petrovsky Stadium during the summer.
Zenit (4-3-3): Malafeev; Anyukov, Criscito, Lombaerts, Hubocan; Shirokov, Fayzulin, Witsel; Bystrov, Kerzhakov, Hulk
Milan (4-3-1-2): Abbiati; Abate, Bonera, Zapata, Antonini; Montolivo, De Jong, Emanuelson; Boateng; El Shaarawy, Bojan.