Leaders Leverkusen out to bounce back at Zenit
Bayer Leverkusen head to Zenit St Petersburg for Tuesday`s Champions League clash aiming to consolidate their place as group leaders and brush off their shock defeat to Hamburg.
Baerlin: Bayer Leverkusen head to Zenit St Petersburg for Tuesday`s Champions League clash aiming to consolidate their place as group leaders and brush off their shock defeat to Hamburg.
Leverkusen top Group C having beaten both Zenit and Benfica at home last month after losing their opening game at Monaco and want another win over Andre Vilas-Boas` Russian Premier League leaders to stay on course for the knock-out round.
"We have earned a decent starting position which we want to strengthen," said Leverkusen`s director of sport Rudi Voeller. "We can work on that in St Petersburg."
Bayer, sixth in the Bundesliga, suffered a blip on Saturday when they lost for the first time in nine games at Hamburg as Rafael van der Vaart`s penalty sealed a 1-0 win in a bad-tempered match which saw nine yellow cards.
"The Champions League is a different competition, so this is a completely different game," said Voller.
"St Petersburg play football, which is more than Hamburg did."
Due to the time difference, Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt held his last training session in Leverkusen before flying to Russia.
Bayer expect to have Lars Bender fit despite picking up knee and nose injuries in Hamburg.
Brazilian defender Wendell is suspended, having been sent off for a second yellow card in the 2-0 win over Zenit a fortnight ago with Croatia teenager Tin Jedvaj expected to take his place at left back.
Unlike Leverkusen, St Petersburg warmed-up for Tuesday`s match with a 1-0 victory over Champions League side CSKA on Saturday to go seven points clear in the Russian league thanks to Javi García`s winning header.
"That was a fantastic performance by us," said Villas-Boas.
"The Champions League is going to be a different competition, but we still have the ability to earn seven points regardless of what happens in the other games."