Home » Champ League, Latest » CL Match Preview: Zenit vs Benfica

Zenit St Petersburg striker Alexander Kerzhakov believes sub-zero temperatures in Russia will not play to his side’s advantage against Benfica.

The two teams are set to meet in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash.

Thermometers are set to drop to minus 15 degrees centigrade at the Petrovsky Stadium on Wednesday night, with the freezing conditions likely to affect the visiting team more than the hosts.

Zenit booked their place in the knockout stages for the first time in their history with a goalless draw against Porto and will go in search of another Liga scalp in their tie against Benfica.

However, the Portuguese side will be tough opponents after they reached the last 16 by topping a group which contained Manchester United, who were knocked out of the competition thanks in part to the 2-2 draw at home to the Liga side.

Despite this, Kerzhakov remains confident that the Russian Premier League champions can get a result, with their only advantage in the testing conditions a packed stadium of home support.

“It’s not very pleasant both for southern players and for northern players like us to play when it’s below minus 10 outside,” the striker told the club’s official website.

“Basically the weather conditions are the same for everybody. I wouldn’t talk about that as being an advantage. The fact that we’re playing at home, and that the stadium will be full – that’s where our advantage lies.

“We’ve probably had to play in weather like this more often than our opponent has but I don’t think that that’s an advantage for us.

“We like warmth too and like to play in good football weather. This weather is not good for football.

“But I think our fans will come and fill the stadium, and that’s probably the factor that will help us win the match in the end.”

Zenit’s Portuguese attacking midfielder Danny will miss the clash after being ruled out for the rest of the campaign with ruptured knee cruciate ligaments, with 20-year-old Maksim Kanunnikov set to take his place.

But Kerzhakov, who has scored 16 goals in 22 league appearances this season, believes his side can overcome the loss of their key man and get a result ahead of the return leg on March 6.

“Such an event as the knockout stage of the Champions League is happening in our city for the first time,” Kerzhakov said.

“We have to play both for ourselves and for all the fans who are writing this history together with us as this is just as important for them as it is for us.

“The fact that we have personnel problems right now, that’s always hard. It’s hard when first-team players can’t participate.

“We have to play for those who can’t take part in the match and I think we can manage that. We have a lot of players who can replace the injured guys, and I think we’ll do so.”

Related Posts

No comments yet... Be the first to leave a reply!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.