The third matchday of the group stages is upon us! The Bulls face a second Champions League home game in a row, as they prepare to take on reigning Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg. Head Coach Sergey Semak’s team are currently first in Group G with four points. With a victory over the Russians, RBL could rise to at least second place!
After the 0-2 defeat to Olympique Lyonnais, Julian Nagelmann’s team want to perform better and take all three points in an important battle for a place in the knock-out rounds.
In our look at Zenit, we have put the reigning champions of Russia under the microscope.
Before their league title in 2018/19, Zenit St. Petersburg have also celebrated some other successes. Zenit are six-time national champions (5x Russian champions, 1x Soviet champions) and have won four total cup competitions (3x Russian Cup, 1x Soviet Cup). They also have three Russian Supercup titles to their name.
Zenit have also tasted success on the international stage, winning the UEFA Cup in 2007/08 and the UEFA Supercup in the subsequent season.
They have a few big names in their current squad, such as Branislav Ivanovic (formerly of Chelsea) and Malcolm (formerly of Barcelona). A list of their former players also reveals some top names: Hulk, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Axel Witsel, Claudio Marchisio, Andrey Arshavin, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Martin Skrtel have all lined up for the St Petersburg club.
Zenit are currently level on points with Lokomotiv Moscow at the top of the Russian Premier League, winning nine of their first 13 league games, taking 29 points. Furthermore, the St. Petersburg club has the best defence in the league, conceding only seven goals, and also the best offence with 27 total goals scored.
One standout performer is striker Artem Dzyuba. The Russian forward has scored eight goals and provided eight assists! He has now scored as many goals so far this season as he did in the whole of last season. Sardar Azmoun’s performances have not gone under the radar either, the Iranian has been involved in eight goals so far this season, scoring four and assisting four.
The Russians also strengthened in the summer transfer window. Here are the most important singings and sales:
• Malcolm (from FC Barcelona)
• Douglas Santos (from Hamburger SV)
• Vyacheslav Karavaev (from Vitesse Arnhem)
• Luka Djordjevic (to Lokomotiv Moscow)
• Miha Mevlja (zu FK Sochi)
• Emiliano Rigoni (loan to Sampdoria)
Sergey Semak (43 years) has been in his current role since 29th May 2018 and became Russian Champion in his first season at Zenit. As a player, he turned out for CSKA Moscow, Paris Saint-Germain, Rubin Kazan and Zenit, ending his playing career in St Petersburg.
In July 2013, he was appointed assistant coach at Zenit, a title he held until December 2016. Alongside his job in St. Petersburg, he was employed as the assistant coach of the Russia national team from August 2014 to August 2016. He accepted his first Head Coach position in December 2016, taking the helm at Russian Premier League side FC Ufa, before returning to Zenit to take on the top job in St. Petersburg in May 2018.
Last season, Sergey Semak’s side won 20, drew four and lost six as they finished top of the table on 64 points. They had the best attack in the league, scoring a total of 57 goals.
• Sebastián Driussi - 11 goals
• Serdar Azmoun - 9 goals
• Artem Dzyuba - 8 goals
• Artem Dzyuba - 12 assists
• Sebastián Driussi - 8 assists
- Club name:
Futbolny Klub "Senit" Sankt-Peterburg
- Founded in:
- Team colours:
- Most appearances:
Vyacheslav Malafeev (414 games)
- Record goalscorer:
Aleksandr Kerzhakov (149 goals)
Opened in 2017
Pitch dimensions: 120m × 80m