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AC Milan and Zenit St. Petersburg both struggled on the first matchday of Champions League play and need to improve on Wednesday.
AC Milan and Zenit St. Petersburg are the clear favorites to advance out of Group C, but both have dug themselves holes early with poor results. Milan drew a game they should have won against Anderlecht on the first matchday, while Zenit got absolutely slaughtered by Malaga in a game they were expected to draw.
If either team can manage all three points, the other is going to end up feeling they need a victory on Matchday 3 to keep themselves in a good position to grab a knockout stage place. Anderlecht and Malaga have proven that they're not going to roll over and let the two favorites coast into the Round of 16.
Zenit's signings of Hulk and Axel Witsel have been met with some resistance by the rank and file of the team, resulting in Igor Denisov being sent to the academy side. This wouldn't be that big of a problem if Witsel was healthy, but he's been out injured recently. He could return to the 18-man squad for this match, but is unlikely to be the best version of himself. Sergei Semak is also struggling with an injury, and the potential absence of those three players leaves Zenit thin in midfield. It will be a huge blow for them if neither Witsel or Semak can play.
Milan are mostly healthy, but their team is still a bit of a mystery. Max Allegri, either through divine inspiration or out of fear for losing his job, is actually shaking things up. He's experimented with a couple of completely different styles of 4-3-3 formations with completely different personnel over the last two games, so his starting XI is anyone's guess.
Zenit St. Petersburg injuries and suspensions
Out: Danny (knee), Igor Densiov (team discipline). In doubt: Nicolas Lombaerts (broken nose), Domenico Criscito (cheek), Sergei Semak (hamstring), Axel Witsel (thigh), Tomas Hubocan (thigh)
AC Milan injuries and suspensions
Milan will be pleased that they have an almost completely healthy team. Actually, let's call this completely healthy. You know how 3 percent unemployment is actually full employment? When Acerbi gets fit, a Milan team that has just Pato and Flamini out is considered "fully fit". Zenit's problems are a bit more troubling, though everyone but Danny has a chance to play.
Match Date/Time: 9 p.m. local, 12 p.m. ET
Venue: Petrovsky Stadium, St. Petersburg, Russia
TV: FOX Soccer Channel (U.S.), Sky Sports 2 (U.K.), Sportsnet World (Canada), NTV+ Football (Russia), Sky Calcio 1 (Italy)
Online: FOX Soccer 2 Go (U.S. - delay)