Russian teams go in search of first points
Ambitious Russian clubs Zenit St Petersburg and Spartak Moscow go in search of their first Champions League points this week as they attempt to improve their country’s unimpressive record in the competition.
Far from setting Europe alight, Zenit and Spartak find themselves in the company of Galatasaray, Lille, Nordsjaelland, Ajax, Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb who have also failed to get off the mark in their opening two group stage games.
The situation is particularly embarrassing for Russian champions Zenit, who splurged around €100 million to lure Brazilian forward Hulk and Belgium’s Alex Witsel to the club.
This week’s third round of matches, where Real Madrid’s visit to Borussia Dortmund is the highlight, is also potentially decisive for the hopes of Manchester City, Juventus and Benfica, who have yet to win a game between them.
Real are among six teams to have won their opening games alongside Barcelona, Porto, Arsenal and Manchester United plus, more surprisingly, BATE Borisov and newcomers Malaga.
Russian clubs have been attracting more high-profile foreigners recently with Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o playing at league leaders Anzhi Makhachkala.
But, while CSKA Moscow and Zenit have recently won the UEFA Cup, since rebranded Europa League, the spending spree has yet to translate into results in the continent’s flagship competition.
The last Russian side to reach the semi-finals were Spartak Moscow in 1991, in the days of the old European Cup, and the country has mustered only four quarter-final appearances since the Champions League started in 1992, two apiece for Spartak and CSKA.
Zenit will finally hope to get off the mark against Belgian champions Anderlecht, who have one point, in Group C tomorrow, where Malaga (6) and Milan (4), who meet in Spain, are already looking the likely qualifiers despite the Serie A side’s domestic troubles.
“It’s not a good moment, but we have to stay lucid and maintain balance,” said Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri after his side lost 3-2 at Lazio on Saturday.
“I think that lately, the team has put in some good performances but has also paid a high price for the mistakes we made.”
Spartak, who lost their first two games 3-2, are also at home, facing twice former European champions Benfica in Group G tonight.
Ueni Emery’s side, who led 2-1 against both Barcelona and Celtic before slumping to defeat, have a very poor home record in the Champions League group stage, with only one win in their last 15 attempts.
Spartak, beaten 2-1 by Russian Premier League leaders Anzhi at the weekend, could be down to only one goalkeeper, third-choice Artem Rebrov after Sergei Pesyakov was injured at the weekend with a suspected broken foot.
First-choice keeper Andriy Dykan is sidelined with a shoulder injury.
If leaders Barcelona (6) beat Celtic (4) as expected in the group’s other game, a Spartak win could lift them back into contention.
Elsewhere, Manchester City and Juventus badly need to get their campaigns off the ground.
Serie A champions Juventus, unbeaten in 10 matches in all competitions this season, drew their opening two games in Group E but should win today’s match away to Nordsjaelland.
The Danish champions were out of their depth as they lost 4-0 at home to title holders Chelsea, who visit Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk with both teams level at the top of the group on four points.
Manchester City, who have one point in Group D, visit Dutch champions Ajax, a once great side who were crushed 4-1 at home by Real Madrid and appear unable to compete with the financial clout of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Real visit Dortmund, who have reversed last season’s pattern of struggling in Europe and doing well in the Bundesliga.
Bayern, who suffered a shock 3-1 defeat at BATE Borisov, visit Lille in Group F while the Belarus champions host Valencia.
D. Zagreb vs Porto - 0-2
Paris SG vs D. Kiev - 4-1
D. Kiev vs Dinamo Zagreb - 2-0
Porto vs PSG - 1-0
Porto vs D. Kiev - tomorrow
D. Zagreb vs PSG - tomorrow
06/11/12: D. Kiev vs Porto
06/11/12: Paris SG vs D. Zagreb
21/11/12: Porto vs D. Zagreb
21/11/12: D. Kiev vs Paris SG
04/12/12: D. Zagreb vs D. Kiev
04/12/12: Paris SG vs Porto
Montpellier vs Arsenal - 1-2
Olympiakos vs Schalke - 1-2
Schalke vs Montpellier - 2-2
Arsenal vs Olympiakos - 3-1
Arsenal vs Schalke - tomorrow
Montpellier vs Olympiakos - tomorrow
06/11/12: Schalke vs Arsenal
06/11/12: Olympiakos vs Montpellier
21/11/12: Arsenal vs Montpellier
21/11/12: Schalke vs Olympiakos
04/12/12: Montpellier vs Schalke
04/12/12: Olympiakos vs Arsenal
Milan vs Anderlecht - 0-0
Malaga vs Zenit SP - 3-0
Anderlecht vs Malaga - 0-3
Zenit SP vs Milan - 2-3
Zenit SP vs Anderlecht - tomorrow
Malaga vs Milan - tomorrow
06/11/12: Anderlecht vs Zenit SP
06/11/12: Milan vs Malaga
21/11/12: Zenit SP vs Malaga
21/11/12: Anderlecht vs Milan
04/12/12: Malaga vs Anderlecht
04/12/12: Milan vs Zenit SP
B. Dortmund vs Ajax - 1-0
R. Madrid vs Man. City - 3-2
Man. City vs B. Dortmund - 1-1
Ajax vs R. Madrid - 1-4
Ajax vs Man. City - tomorrow
B. Dortmund vs R. Madrid - tomorrow
06/11/12: Man. City vs Ajax
06/11/12: R. Madrid vs B. Dortmund
21/11/12: Ajax vs B. Dortmund
21/11/12: Man. City vs R. Madrid
04/12/12: B. Dortmund vs Man. City
04/12/12: R. Madrid vs Ajax
S. Donetsk vs Nordsjaelland - 2-0
Chelsea vs Juventus - 2-2
Juventus vs S. Donetsk - 1-1
Nordsjaelland vs Chelsea - 0-4
Nordsjaelland vs Juventus - today
S. Donetsk vs Chelsea - today
07/11/12: Juve vs Nordsjaelland
07/11/12: Chelsea vs S. Donetsk
20/11/12: Nordsjaelland vs S. Donetsk
20/11/12: Juventus vs Chelsea
05/12/12: S. Donetsk vs Juventus
05/12/12: Chelsea vs Nordsjaelland
Lille vs Bate Borisov - 1-3
B. Munich vs Valencia - 2-1
Valencia vs Lille - 2-0
Bate Borisov vs B. Munich - 3-1
Bate Borisov vs Valencia - today
Lille vs B. Munich - today
07/11/12: Valencia vs Bate Borisov
07/11/12: B. Munich vs Lille
20/11/12: Bate Borisov vs Lille
20/11/12: Valencia vs B. Munich
05/12/12: Lille vs Valencia
05/12/12: B. Munich vs Bate Borisov
Barcelona vs S. Moscow - 3-2
Celtic vs Benfica - 0-0
Benfica vs Barcelona - 0-2
S. Moscow vs Celtic - 2-3
S. Moscow vs Benfica - today
Barcelona vs Celtic - today
07/11/12: Benfica vs S. Moscow
07/11/12: Celtic vs Barcelona
20/11/12: S. Moscow vs Barcelona
20/11/12: Benfica vs Celtic
05/12/12: Barcelona vs Benfica
05/12/12: Celtic vs S. Moscow
Man. United vs Galatasaray - 1-0
Braga vs CFR Cluj - 0-2
CFR Cluj vs Man. United - 1-2
Galatasaray vs Braga - 0-2
Galatasaray vs CFR Cluj - today
Man. United vs Braga - today
07/11/12: CFR Cluj vs Galatasaray
07/11/12: Braga vs Man. United
20/11/12: Galatasaray vs Man. United
20/11/12: CFR Cluj vs Braga
05/12/12: Man. United vs CFR Cluj
05/12/12: Braga vs Galatasaray