Zenit hope to stop winless streak at Saransk
Russian league leaders Zenit St Petersburg, who have dropped points in their last two Premiership matches, are planning to stem the tide in Sunday`s match with lowly Mordovia Saransk.
Moscow: Russian league leaders Zenit St Petersburg, who have dropped points in their last two Premiership matches, are planning to stem the tide in Sunday`s match with lowly Mordovia Saransk.
"We have a strong desire to win Russia`s league this season," Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas said.
"The competition for the title in Russia is very high. And we definitely need to step up our performance to achieve our goal. We`re set to do it in the next league match."
Zenit, who have 26 points from 10 matches, go into this weekend`s round of matches with a two-point lead over second-placed CSKA Moscow, the reigning champions. Dynamo Moscow and Kuban Krasnodar share third spot on 19 points.
On Wednesday, Zenit suffered a 2-0 defeat in the Champions League at the hands of German side Bayer Leverkusen.
But former Chelsea and Tottenham manager said he believed Zenit were still capable of winning a place in the knockout stages.
"We also have a minimum objective to reach the Champions League quarter-final this season," he said.
"Anything is possible (in our group) and in the return match we have to do what we need to in order to get back out there and continue to fight for a place in the playoff."
CSKA will try to extend their domestic five-match winning streak agankist newly-promoted Ufa, also on Sunday.
The Red Army side will be without injury victims Rasmus Elm, the Swedish midfielder, and Brazilian forward Vitinho, while Ivory Coast marksman Seydou Doumbia is still to hit top form.
However, CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky said he believed that after his team saved the day in the 2-2 Champions League clash with Manchester City they were capable of extending their winning run in domestic league.
"I`m happy that we managed to show strong character in the match with Manchester," Slutsky said.
"Now we need to prove our combativity in domestic league to stay in the run for the title.
"I expect a very tight match at Ufa as they will likely try to show their best against the reigning champions in front of their home crowd."
Meanwhile, Russia`s most successful club Spartak Moscow, who suffered a 2-0 defeat at Yekaterinburg a week ago, will try to bounce back in a derby clash with Lokomotiv.
"We failed to show our normal football in our previous match at the snow-covered pitch at Yekaterinburg," Spartak manager Murat Yakin said.
"I hope that in front of our home crowd we will be able to perform at our best."
On Sunday, Yakin will likely have an opportunity to field Russian international playmaker Roman Shirokov, who has finally recovered from a knee injury that prevented his from playing at the World Cup in Brazil.
Meanwhile, Montenegrin coach Miodrag Bozovic, who took over Lokomotiv earlier this month, said that his team were set to extend their three-match winning series in the derby with nine-time champions Spartak.
"I`m happy with my team`s performance so far, as Lokomotiv won three of their last matches," he said.
"Any win boosts the team`s morale and improves chemistry in the dressing room. And we`re set to extend our winning series."
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Ural Yekaterinburg v Arsenal Tula (1300)
Amkar Perm v Rostov (1000), Torpedo Moscow v Kuban Krasnodar (1300)
Spartak Moscow v Lokomotiv Moscow (0930), Ufa v CSKA Moscow (1230), Zenit St Petersburg v Mordovia Saransk (1500),
FC Krasnodar v Terek Grozny (1445), Dynamo Moscow v Rubin Kazan (1630)