Zenit St Petersburg face stern test of unbeaten start

Moscow (AFP) – Russian Premier League joint leaders Zenit St Petersburg face a tough game at Terek Grozny on Sunday as they look to maintain their unbeaten run after making progress in the Europa League. 

Zenit, the Premier League’s only unbeaten side, sit second, level on points with Spartak Moscow, who top the table having won more matches this term.

Terek Grozny are tied with reigning champions CSKA Moscow in third place, both seven points behind the leading duo.

Zenit go into the game in Chechnya fresh from the 2-1 Europa League win over Irish champions Dundalk on Thursday that saw them cruise into the Europa League play-offs.   

“We claimed a very important win to secure the top place in our Europa League group,” Brazilian midfielder Giuliano, who scored twice against Dundalk, told Zenit’s official site. 

“Now we can focus on our objectives in the Russian championship.” 

“Terek are well-organised team, they’re dangerous especially on their home turf. I expect a hard match on Sunday as we don’t have much time for recovery.”

Meanwhile, Spartak Moscow, who have won their last three league games as they seek  a first domestic title since 2001, look set to face a much easier challenge when they visit lowly Tomsk on Saturday.

Spartak manager Massimo Carrera expressed satisfaction with his team’s performance, adding he was hoping his team will grab all three points at 15th-placed Tomsk.

“My players gave everything they have on the pitch in our recent matches,” Carrera told Russian TV.

“They play with passion and I can see their strong desire to achieve something serious this season. I’m proud to coach them.”

“We all want to claim the title. We play for the win in every match, so we hope to extend our winning series at Tomsk.”

Crisis-hit champions CSKA face a huge task to bounce back from a crushing 3-0 Champions League defeat at Monaco as they take on Amkar Perm on Sunday after two consecutive defeats in the domestic league.

“We’ve lost deservedly and I’d like to apologise to our supporters for our dismal performance,” CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky said after the match at Monaco.

“But we need to leave this defeat behind us. We want to retain our title despite everything and now we have to concentrate on the upcoming match with Amkar.”

CSKA look favourites on paper having won 15 meetings with Amkar, while the club from the Urals region have only three victories to their name.

But the Muscovites are experiencing a lack of creativity in attack without Finland international Roman Eremenko, who was suspended by FIFA and UEFA for 30 days last month for reasons yet to be revealed.

The absence of playmaker Alan Dzagoev, who is still on his way to a complete recovery, has also taken its toll on the Red Army side. 

Fixtures (all times GMT)


Tomsk v Spartak Moscow (0800), Ufa v Rubin Kazan (1030), Samara v Ural Yekaterinburg (1300), Lokomotiv Moscow v Anzhi Makhachkala (1530)


Terek Grozny v Zenit St Petersburg (1400), Rostov v Arsenal Tula (1400), CSKA Moscow v Amkar Perm (1600), FC Krasnodar v Orenburg (1630)

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