Head coach of FC Zenit St. Petersburg Luciano Spalletti gestures during the Russian Football League Championship match between FC Zenit St. Petersburg and FC Rubin Kazan. Zenit faces Benfica in the UEFA Champions League on March 6, 2012.
Benfica needs to win at home to get by Zenit after losing by one goal in Russia.
Following their goal-filled match at the Petrovsky Stadium in Russia, Zenit St. Petersburg and Benfica both have everything to play for in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League tie. Zenit won the first leg and only needs a draw to advance, but Benfica's two away goals in the 3-2 thriller give them plenty of different ways to advance.
With a 1-0 win or a 2-1 win, Benfica are in. A 3-2 win obviously forces extra time. Any one-goal win by Benfica in which Zenit scores three or more goals will see Zenit through to the next round. Benfica are through with any multi-goal win.
While Zenit are coming off of a very impressive 2-2 draw away to CSKA Moscow in the Russian Premier League, Benfica's recent league matches have been a disaster. They are winless in their last three in the Portuguese Liga, and their last match was the most painful of them all. After they took a 2-1 lead at home over fierce rivals FC Porto, the Dragons scored twice to win 3-2 away in Lisbon and take a three-point lead on top of the Liga.
Both teams will play similar sides to their last outing, with a few slight differences. Pablo Aimar is suspended, so it's likely that Rodrigo will start out wide while Nicolas Gaitan moves into a central role. Ezequiel Garay is also out for Benfica, and his place in central defense will be taken by Miguel Vitor or Jardel. Javi Garcia is finally completely fit and should play a role. Zenit are still without Danny long-term, while Andrei Arshavin is cup-tied. Danko Lazovic has a broken hand and might play in a cast.
Game Date/Time: Tuesday, March 6, 2:45 p.m. ET, 7:45 p.m. local
Venue: Estadio da Luz, Lisbon, Portugal
TV: FOX Sports Net local networks (USA), Sky Sports 4 (UK)
Projected Benfica Lineup (4-2-3-1): Artur; Emerson, Luisao, Miguel Vitor, Maxi Pereira; Javi Garcia, Axel Witsel; Nolito, Nico Gaitan, Rodrigo; Oscar Cardozo
Projected Zenit St. Petersburg Lineup (4-3-3): Vyacheslav Malfeev; Domenico Criscito; Tomas Hubocan, Bruno Alves, Aleksandr Anyukov; Igor Denisov, Konstantin Zyryanov, Roman Shirokov; Danko Lazovic, Aleksandr Kerzhakov, Viktor Fayzulin