Moscow: Russian Premier League leaders CSKA Moscow have to bounce back from three straight defeats to get their season back on track.
After two straight domestic defeats and a 2-0 loss to Wolfsburg of Germany in the Champions League this week, the Red Army side face bottom-placed Anzhi Makhachkala on Sunday with their title lead over Rostov cut to five points from nine at the start of the month.
CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky was upset with a defeat that dashed CSKA`s chances of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage.
"It`s a very disappointing defeat as we had the initiative and created scoring chances," Slutsky said.
"We need to concentrate on two Premier League matches remaining before the winter break. I hope we will win both of them to maintain our lead."
Reigning champions Zenit St Petersburg, who beat Valencia 2-0 to ensure they top Champions League Group H, turn their focus back to domestic action when they meet Terek Grozny on Sunday.
"We were very happy to record five wins in as many Champions League matches," Zenit Brazilian star Hulk said. "It`s a new milestone in the club`s history. But now we need to focus on the Russian league matches.
"We`ve lost too many points this season but we still have chances to retain the title as the leaders dropped points in their recent games."
Second-placed Rostov, held to a 1-1 draw by lowly Ufa in their previous league encounter, will have to pass a tough test when they visit FC Krasnodar on Monday.
Rostov head coach Kurban Berdyev, who guided Rubin Kazan to their back-to-back Russian titles in 2008-09, said that the serious personnel problems prevented his team from showing their best football.
"In the last matches we lacked mobility and had no reserves for boosting our performance because of injuries. Hopefully the things will sort themselves out for our next match," Berdyev said.
Moscow club Lokomotiv, who sit third one point behind Rostov, tackle city rivals Dynamo also on Monday after a 4-2 defeat in Europa League clash with Sporting Lisbon.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Ural Yekaterinburg v Mordovia Saransk (1400)
Ufa v Kuban Krasnodar (0930), Samar v Amkar Perm (1200), Terek Grozny v Zenit St Petersburg (1430)
Anzhi Makhachkala v CSKA Moscow (1200)
Rubin Kazan v Spartak Moscow (1600), FC Krasnodar v Rostov (1600), Dynamo Moscow v Lokomotiv Moscow (1600)