Zenit 100% record under threat from Dynamo
Andre Villas-Boas` Russian Premier League leaders Zenit St Petersburg defend their unbeaten record against second placed Dynamo Moscow on Saturday in the biggest challege to their title credentials yet.
Moscow: Andre Villas-Boas` Russian Premier League leaders Zenit St Petersburg defend their unbeaten record against second placed Dynamo Moscow on Saturday in the biggest challege to their title credentials yet.
Zenit have won all six of their matches so far. But games against Dynamo, now bolstered by French international Mathieu Valbuena, are diffierent.
"Of course we all want to extend our winning streak. We know it will be a tough match as Dynamo are currently in form but we`re ready for it," said Villas-Boas.
Zenit have twice been twice been punished with 3-0 technical defeats for crowd disturbances in recent games against Dynamo.
Their game in November, 2012 was abandoned when a firecracker, thrown by a Zenit fan injured Dynamo goalkeeper Anton Shunin.
In May, a crowd invasion forced the game with Dynamo to be abandoned. It was Villas Boas` first defeat at the club and the result cost Zenit the title as they finished the season just one point behind winners CSKA Moscow.
"The defeat in the match with Dynamo (in May) dashed our title hopes," said the former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham manager.
"It was a painful blow not only for me but for the players and the entire club.
Valbuena said he expected a tight match on Saturday. "I think Zenit and Dynamo deservedly lead the league as these clubs are playing the best football," he said. "I expect a very tense clash."
Third-placed Kuban Krasnodar face their own tough test at fourth placed side Terek Grozny on Monday. Terek are just a point behind Kuban.
"I remember all of my matches against Kuban very well," Terek`s Brazilian forward Ailton said.
"They were all hard as Kuban are one of the country`s strongest teams.
Kuban manager Viktor Goncharenko said he is looking for Terek weaknesses to exploit.
"Terek are very well-balanced team," Goncharenko said.
"They`re extremely dangerous on their home turf. But like any other team they have their strengths and weaknesses. Our main goal is to capitalize on their frailties."
Reigning champions CSKA Moscow, who recorded their biggest Russian league win on August 31, 6-0 against Rostov, can boost their current sixth place as they take on newly-promoted Arsenal Tula on Saturday.
But the Red Army side have many injuries.
"If we are at full strength we can beat any rival. But I remember only one day when all of my players were training in the main group during my five-year term in CSKA," said manager Leonid Slutsky.
"However, we have no other choice but to get on the pitch and play regardless of how many players we have injured."
CSKA Moscow v Arsenal Tula, Lokomotiv Moscow v Mordovia Saransk, Zenit St Petersburg v Dynamo Moscow
Spartak Moscow v Torpedo Moscow, FC Krasnodar v Ufa
Amkar Perm v Ural Yekaterinburg, Terek Grozny v Kuban Krasnodar