Expedition Europa goes on! On Thursday (21:05 CET kick-off,. RB Leipzig welcome Zenit St. Petersburg to the RB-Arena for the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie.
Here's all you need to know about Thursday's opponents...
THe season so far
Zenit find themselves in fourth place in the Russian Premier League with 38 points after 21 games played. Roberto Mancini's side have won ten league games this term. On top of that, they've drawn eight times and lost three times.
The Premier League consists of 16 teams, so there are 30 matchdays which make up the season. Due to the harsh climate in Russia, the winter break is somewhat longer than it is in Germany - from the beginning of December to the beginning of March. So Zenit actually got back underway in the league this past weekend against 13th placed Amkar Perm, a game that ended in a goalless draw.
The league leaders are Lokomitiv Moscow with 46 points, the team for which former Schalke player Jefferson Farfan plies his trade. They are being chased by four teams who are seperated by a mere one point - Krasnodar (39), CSKA Moscow, Zenit and Spartak Moscow (all 39).
Zenit came away as unbeaten group winners earlier in the competition, after beating both Vardar Skopje and Real Sociedad twice. They also drew once and won once against Rosenborg BK.
Next up was a meeting with Celtic in the Round of 32. They lost 1-0 in the first leg away from home, but with a 3-0 win at home in the second leg, they would progress to the next stage of the competition. Branislav Ivanovic, Daler Kuzyaev and Aleksandr Kokorin were the goalscorers.
Strong in defence
Zenit's calling card is their defence, lead by Russia international Andrey Lunev in goal. With 13 goals conceded in 21 games, their defence is the best in the Russian League. They are equally tough to break down in the Europa League, after conceding six goals in eight games. All defenders represent their countries at the international level.
Players in focus
- BRANISLAV IVANOVIC
The Serbia international has been at Zenit St. Petersburg since January 2017. Earlier in his career, he has played for current Russian League leaders Lokomotiv Moscow as well as Chelsea from 2008 to 2017. While playing for the London club, he won the Champions League in 2012 in addition to the Europa League a year later. The versatile defender, who can play both centre and right back, headed in the winner against Benfica in the 2013 UEFA Europa League final.
The 34-year-old has made 28 appearances for Zenit in all competitions this season, with 19 of those coming in the league. He's scored a total of four times, making him their highest-scoring defender.
- ALEKSANDR KOKORIN
The striker is the current top scorer in the Russian League, with ten goals from 21 games. He's played the full 90 minutes on 20 occasions. By scoring a further nine goals in the group stage and Round of 32 of the Europa League, his total stands at 19 goals in all competitions. He is his team's top scorer.
In qualification for the 2014 World Cup, Kokorin scored the fastest goal ever in the history of the Russia national team. He scored the goal after 21 seconds had been played. It was one of 12 goals in 48 international appearances.
Aside from Kokorin, there are seven other Zenit first-team players that currently represent Russia: Andrey Lunev (GK), Igor Smolnikov (defender), Daler Kuzyaev, Yuri Zhirkov, Alexsandr Erokhin (all midfield), Dmitri Poloz and Anton Zabolotnyi (both forwards).
head coach: Roberto Mancini
The Italian has led both Manchester City and Inter Milan to domestic titles earlier in his career, but has been in the Zenit dugout since the summer of 2017. As a player, he was one of Italy's best strikers of all time. He scored 196 goals throughout his career and was a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup champion with both Lazio and Sampdoria.
Mancini encountered current RBL coach Perry Bräutigam in the 1988 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup - Mancini was in Sampdoria colours while Perry was goalkeeper for Carl Zeiss Jena. Jena managed to come away with a remarkable 1-1 draw in the first leg, but went on to lose the second leg 3-1. Mancini himself failed to score against Perry.
Former Bayern player is zenit assistant coach
Anatoliy Tymoshchuk represented Bayern Munich from 2009 to 2013, where he was a part of two Bundesliga winning teams and won the UEFA Champions League under Jupp Heynckes in 2013. The Ukranian retired at the beginning of 2017 to pursue a coaching career with Zenit.
25th May 1925
- Russian Premier League:
4x winners (2007, 2010, 2012, 2015)
- Russian Cup:
3x winners (1999, 2010, 2016)
- UEFA Cup:
1x winners (2008, 2-0 win in final against Rangers)
Construction began 2007
Opened on 22nd April 2017