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City news
Zenit Prepares To Do Battle With Sevilla
03.24.2006 15:11

zenit_football FC Zenit St. Petersburg beat Torpedo Moscow 2-0 at Petrovsky Stadium on Wednesday in the Russian Cup quarterfinal. The win gives the St. Petersburg side a chance of advancing to the semifinal of the Russian Cup, after the two teams meet in the second leg of the quarterfinals on April 14 in Moscow.

But Zenit coach Vlastimil Petrzela was more worried than satisfied after the game. He complained that his players are exhausted from a packed schedule.

Zenit has already played 15 matches this season and only lost one of them. At a press conference after beating Torpedo, Petrzela said that his main focus is on the UEFA Cup and the Russian Cup. Victory in one of those would give Zenit the chance to play in Europe again next season.

Wednesday’s game was in effect a warm-up to the important UEFA Cup tie on Thursday in which Zenit faces Spanish side Sevilla FC in the UEFA Cup quarterfinal. The St. Petersburg team has already met Sevilla once this season and once last season.

Zenit, which hosted both games, won the last match 2-1, but still ended second in the UEFA Cup group behind Sevilla on goal difference. Striker Alexander Kerzhakov scored both Zenit goals.

Kerzhakov also helped Zenit to this year’s UEFA Cup quarterfinals by scoring against Olympique Marseille in the aggregate win.

In its first match last season in the UEFA Cup group stage Sevilla stopped Zenit from advancing further by clinching a draw. The Russian side needed to win the match to advance.

Although it has yet to win a match against Zenit outright, Sevilla has picked up confidence by winning against other Russian teams.

In the last 32, the Spanish side beat FC Lokomotiv Moscow 3-0 on aggregate.

Sevilla coach Juande Ramos believes this season’s defeat against Zenit may hand a small advantage to the Russian side even though the Russian Championship began only last Sunday.

Zenit drew 1-1 at home to Saturn and meet Amkar Perm on Sunday in a final preparation for the matches against Sevilla.

“We have a keen desire to reach the last four and although Zenit may lack fitness, they will have a mental edge,” Ramos told uefa.com.

“At this level all teams provide some level of difficulty,” he said. “We would have liked to have played at home in the return, but if we play well in the first leg we’ll go to St. Petersburg with less anxiety.”

Zenit are also placing greater importance on the first encounter when they travel to Sevilla FC’s Ram×n SÇnchez-PizjuÇn Stadium on Thursday.

“We’ve already played Sevilla twice in the past two seasons so we know them and they know us,” said Zenit representative Leonid Genusov. “Both games were in St. Petersburg, though, and we’ve never played in Seville so it could be an advantage to them.”

The return game will be played at Petrovsky Stadium on April 6. The aggregate winner will face the winner of the quarterfinal between FC Schalke 04 and PFC Levski Sofia.

By Martin Burlund

Special to St. Petersburg Times

News source: times.spb.ru
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