Zenit look to continue perfect start to Russian season

AFP
Zenit St Petersburg's Oleg Shatov, seen during an UEFA Champions League match in Dortmund, western Germany, on March 19, 2014
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Moscow (AFP) - Zenit St Petersburg will be confident of extending their perfect start to the Russian Premier League season when they welcome Amkar Perm to the Petrovsky Stadium on Saturday.

Zenit are the only team to have won all four matches so far and have scored 15 goals in the process, including eight against newly-promoted Torpedo Moscow.

They will have their home support behind them once again after being forced to play both Torpedo and Ufa behind closed doors because of a two-game supporter ban as a punishment for trouble at a match against Dynamo Moscow late last season.

And an Amkar side who have collected just one point from their opening four games would appear unlikely to represent a stiff test for Zenit, even if this encounter comes in between the two legs of a Champions League play-off against Standard Liege for Andre Villas-Boas's men.

An Oleg Shatov strike gave Zenit a 1-0 win in Belgium on Wednesday, leaving last season's Russian runners-up with one foot in the group stage ahead of next Tuesday's return.

However, former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur boss Villas Boas warned: "We must keep in mind that we haven't had a break in a while.

"Since starting our Champions League campaign we have played seven matches without a break, and with flights and having to acclimatise to each new place.

"We played a good match in Liege but our work hasn't been completed as we expect a tough clash in the return leg with Standard. And I am positive that we will be completely ready for our next match."

Elsewhere on Saturday, Spartak Moscow travel to promoted Ufa fresh from their 1-0 win in the Moscow derby with reigning champions CSKA.

Murat Yakin, the Swiss coach of Spartak, is hopeful that forward Artem Dzyuba, scorer of four goals in the opening two matches, and midfielder Tino Costa will recover from minor injuries in time to make the trip 1,400 kilometres east to Ufa.

And reigning champions CSKA, without last season's leading scorer Seydou Doumbia due to injury, face a stiff test away to Rubin Kazan.

"We lacked creativity in our last match," admitted CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky, referring to the 1-0 defeat to Spartak.

However, Rubin, back-to-back champions in 2008 and 2009, are still without a win this season.

Fixtures

Saturday

Ufa v Spartak Moscow, Zenit St Petersburg v Amkar Perm, Rubin Kazan v CSKA Moscow

Sunday

Dynamo Moscow v Ural Yekaterinburg, Torpedo Moscow v FC Krasnodar, Kuban Krasnodar v Lokomotiv Moscow, Rostov v Mordovia Saransk

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