Europa League: Roberto Mancini’s Russian league leaders Zenit St Petersburg go into this weekend’s tricky assignment at CSKA Moscow buoyed by an encouraging midweek Europa League win.
Zenit, who suffered their first domestic league defeat at the hands of unfancied Arsenal Tula last week, top the Russian Premier League two points clear of Lokomotiv Moscow.
CSKA sit third, two points further back.
“We didn’t deserve to beat Arsenal squandering all of our scoring chances,” Mancini said.
“Luckily it didn’t affect us in the next match.
“We looked solid against Rosenborg (beaten 3-1 on Thursday, with Argentinean Emiliano Rigoni scoring a hat-trick) and I believe we will be able to play at the same high level in Moscow.”
CSKA hope to bounce back from their Champions League 2-0 home defeat against the Swiss side Basel.
Head coach Viktor Gancharenko said he was disappointed with his team’s performance on Wednesday adding he believed his men will not repeat that lacklustre performance.
“The first half against Basel was terrible,” he said. “I just cannot remember when we have played so nervously. It’s our worst match this season.
“I know that we can play much better and I hope we will not perform this way against Zenit. Otherwise we’re doomed.”
Reigning champions Spartak, who boosted their morale with a 5-1 rout of Sevilla in Tuesday’s Champions League clash, will try to narrow the gap on the leaders by beating strugglers Amkar Perm on Saturday.
Spartak manager Massimo Carrera said he expected his team to perform the same quality football in the match against the visitors from Russia’s Urals region.
“In general Spartak have played an ideal match against Sevilla,” he said.
“We allowed the team, which have won Europa League three times in the last four years, to create only a few chances. Hopefully, we will show the same level of play in our next game.
“We need to take Amkar seriously. They have struggled this season from the start but it means they have nothing to lose. And we have to play at our best on Saturday to avoid an unnecessary loss.”
Fixtures (all times GMT)
SKA Khabarovsk v Ufa (0830), Tosno v Rostov (1100), Rubin Kazan v Dynamo Moscow (1330), Spartak Moscow v Amkar Perm (1600)
Ural Yekaterinburg v Akhmat Grozny (1100), CSKA Moscow v Zenit St Petersburg (1330), Anzhi Makhachkala v Arsenal Tula (1600)
Lokomotiv Moscow v Krasnodar (1630)