FC Zenit have an opportunity to “write a chapter in our history” and break new ground by reaching the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals. That is what Luciano Spalletti has told his players as they prepare to take on Borussia Dortmund in the club’s second incursion into the round of 16.
Beaten by SL Benfica at this juncture two years ago, Zenit host a Dortmund side who could field centre-back Mats Hummels for the first time since late January.
Jurgen Klopp’s men go into the first leg of their last-16 tie on the back of a 3-0 humbling at Hamburg but they face a side who have not played a competitive game since December
Dortmund topped Group F this term, albeit only narrowly after Arsenal and Napoli also finished on 12 points.
While the Italian side were eliminated from the Champions League, Zenit made it through to the last 16 with half as many points, having finished second in a group dominated by La Liga high-fliers Atletico Madrid.
Zenit’s only win in Group G came against Porto, but that sole triumph combined with three draws proved enough to seal a place in the knockout rounds for the second time.
Can Spalletti boys write history tonight?