Zenit St. Petersburg welcome AC Milan to the Stadion Petrovskij on Wednesday as both sides look to overcome indifferent starts to their respective campaigns. Kick off 19:45.
Zenit have been hit with a mini-crisis following the summer acquisitions of Hulk and Axel Witsel for a combined fee of £64 million, with a host of senior players unhappy with the wages being handed to the summer signings.
Despite their problems, Zenit have not been beaten at home in European competition since losing to Real Madrid in 2008, but they lost in their opening Champions League Group C match against Malaga 3-0. Milan have begun their season in indifferent form, drawing 0-0 with Anderlecht last week and have so far struggled in Serie A losing three of their first four matches of the season.
Last season’s Serie A runners up have struggled in the Champions League of late and have only managed one win in their last eight games, failing to score in three of their last four matches.
Zenit St Petersburg left-back Domenico Criscito will wear a plastic mask if he plays. Criscito broke his left cheekbone in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Lokomotiv Moscow. Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel is available for selection after recovering from a pulled hamstring. However, the Russians champions are still missing injured midfielder Sergei Semak and Portugal international Danny as well as Russia skipper Igor Denisov, who has refused to play for the club and demanded to renegotiate his contract.
Midfielders Mathieu Flamini and Sulley Muntari are both injury doubts for Milan, who drew 1-1 at Parma at the weekend. Striker Alexandre Pato remains a long-term absentee for the struggling Rossoneri.
One to watch:
Zenit St Petersburg – Hulk
The Brazilian striker has already scored two goals for his new club, one in the Russian Premier League and one in the Russian Cup. While they were important, Zenit will need Hulk to find form in Europe as well if they are hoping to make it through the group stages.
AC Milan – Stephan El Shaarawy
The young striker has been thrust into the limelight following the sale of Ibrahimovic and the long term absence through injury of Alexandre Pato. El Shaarawy has thrived under the pressure thus far and his confidence, pace and technical ability are able to cause any defence problems.
Zenit 1-1 AC Milan
Zenit St Petersburg: Malafeev, Anyukov, Alves, Lombaerts, Criscito, Shirokov, Zyryanov, Denisov, Bystrov, Kerzhakov, Hulk
AC Milan: Abbiati, Abate, Zapata, Mexes, De Sciglio, De Jong, Montolivo, Nocerino, Boateng, El Shaarawy, Pazzini.