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Zenit St. Petersburg are the favorites of both Russian and foreign
Zenit St. Petersburg are the favorites of both Russian and foreign bookmakers ahead of their UEFA Cup final clash against Glasgow Rangers at the City of Manchester Stadium on Wednesday.

British bookmakers William Hill are offering odds of 6/5 for a Zenit victory after 90 minutes, with Rangers at 21/10. A draw after normal time is 15/8. The club, bankrolled by Russian energy giant Gazprom, are also 8/11 favorites with Ladbroke. The leading Russian bookmaker Marafon has also made the side favorites to lift their first European title.

Zenit crushed Bayern Munich 4-0 in St. Petersburg on May 1, winning their semi-final tie 5-1 on aggregate. The victory was made even more remarkable by the fact that the Russian champions were missing a number of key players, including Andrey Arshavin, the side's captain and talisman.

Rangers defeated Italian side Florentina on penalties after 210 minutes had failed to produce a single goal in the other semi-final.

The Rangers defense has proved solid in this year's UEFA Cup, with the Scottish side conceding only two goals since dropping into the competition from the Champions League.

Zenit will be without the UEFA Cup's joint top scorer on Wednesday, Pavel Pogrebnyak who picked up a yellow card in the second match against Bayern that rules him out of the decider. Arshavin, however, will be back, and is the favorite with most bookmakers to open the scoring.

"We're going to Manchester, but I am really disappointed I can't play there. Well, I guess I'll just have to come along and support the team," Pogrebnyak told UEFA.

He will not be alone in cheering on the side from Russia's northern capital. Zenit fans have snapped up the club's allocation of 13,000 tickets, and have requested more. Britain has announced however that while, unlike Manchester United and Chelsea fans traveling to Moscow for the Champions League final on May 21, Russian supporters will need a visa to enter Britain. However, ticket-holders will not need visa invitations, and consular fees have been waived.

The Russian football authorities have postponed all of the St. Petersburg team's games until the final, leaving the side plenty of time to prepare for what is arguably the club's most important match since it was founded in 1925 as the representative of a Leningrad metal factory.

"We are one game away from making history," said Zenit's Dutch trainer Dick Advocaat, who spent six years as coach at Glasgow Rangers.

However, sentiment will have little part to play as Zenit and Advocaat look to become only the second Russian side to lift a major European trophy after CSKA's UEFA Cup victory in 2005.


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