History favours Zenit in UCL

Getty Images

Having overcome Valencia in its opening Group H game, Zenit Saint Petersburg will be expecting to take another step towards the UEFA Champions League knockout stages at home to Gent.

Andre Villas-Boas, who is serving a six-match touchline ban in the Russian Premier League for confronting an official, oversaw a 3-2 win in Spain courtesy of Hulk's double and Axel Witsel's late goal.

History favours the Russians, who have won all five previous home matches against Belgian opposition with an aggregate score of 12-1.

Gent showed it was no pushover in its opening-game draw against Lyon, though, securing a hard-earned point despite finishing the match with nine men - Matz Sels's late penalty save from Alexandre Lacazette proving crucial.

Brecht Dejaegere and Thomas Foket saw red in that game and will be absent for the trip to a Zenit side whose domestic campaign has faltered of late.

A four-match winless run has left it playing catch-up, with Villas-Boas's revelation that he will leave the club at the end of the season potentially impacting on its form.

It is not the only controversy to have surfaced at the club this month, with star man Hulk claiming to have suffered racist abuse during the 2-2 Russian Premier League draw with Spartak Moscow at the weekend.

Gent has suffered no such problems and is enjoying an 11-game unbeaten run, though six of those fixtures have ended in draws.

Coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck felt his side spurned an opportunity to claim maximum points on its competition debut against Lyon and urged his men to be "smarter".

With Gent being the underdog for this match, Zenit may need to take a different approach to that which saw them overcome Valencia.

The Liga outfit had 62 per cent possession, racked up 15 shots to Zenit's seven and amassed 12 corners to two. Unsurprisingly, Villas-Boas cited his side's threat on the counter-attack as key, but it may be expected to take the game to Gent on home soil.

Oleg Shatov (muscular injury) is a doubt for Zenit after missing the last two matches, while Erik Johansson (knee) is out for the visitor.


>