Zenit St Petersburg will be missing half a team through injury and suspension when they take on Sevilla in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final later today.
However, Sevilla coach Unai Emery has warned his players not to underestimate the hard working Russian side.
Without the likes of top scorer Hulk, Domenico Criscito, Igor Smolnikov and Danny – who are all suspended – it can be expected that Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas will take a very defensive approach to today’s Europa League quarter-final first leg in Seville.
Both clubs enter the contest in good form. Sevilla are unbeaten in their last ten, while Zenit have only lost once in their past ten matches.
The Spanish side have won the competition each of the three previous times they reached the quarter-finals of the competition. But Emery is not looking past his opponents on Thursday.
“Zenit have important players missing but they are a great team,” the Sevilla coach said during his pre-match press conference.
“They are top of the Russian league, they have international experience, and they have won this competition. Every team in this round deserves to be here.
“Zenit have Champions League experience, and they have come through difficult ties against PSV Eindhoven and Torino.”
Emery went on to say he expects the two-legged tie to be fiercely contested over 180 minutes. The Sevilla coach also stressed the importance of his side not conceding a goal at home to the Russian league leaders.
“This is an open tie,” Emery added. “Playing at home, our goal is to win and not concede.
“It will be difficult to decide the tie in the first leg. We have to be mentally ready to compete for 180 minutes. Zenit know how to play home and away.”
Programming note: Sevilla vs. Zenit St Petersburg will be shown LIVE today at 3:00pm EST on FOX Sports 2 and FoxSoccer2Go.
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