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UEFA Cup holders Zenit St. Petersburg kick off their Champions League
UEFA Cup holders Zenit St. Petersburg kick off their Champions League campaign against Juventus in Turin on Wednesday evening.

The reigning Russian champions have been in fine form in recent weeks, with Sunday's 4-1 win against Terek Grozny following a famous Super Cup victory over Manchester United.

The 2-1 victory over the current Champions League holders saw Zenit hand a debut to new signing Danny, and the Portuguese player repaid some of his record 30 million-euro transfer fee by scoring a fine solo goal. Both Danny and Andrei Arshavin, one of the stars of Euro 2008, were in excellent form against Terek at the weekend, and Zenit, controlled by state energy giant Gazprom, flew to Italy on Tuesday with spirits high.

"We respect Juventus," Zenit's Dutch trainer Dick Advocaat told UEFA. "But it's never good to fear anyone. We know their danger men but, hopefully for them, they know ours too."

"The match against Manchester United showed that we can hold our own against such clubs," Danny told Sport-Express. "And, what's more, defeat them."

"I though I would feel some nerves a few days before the game, to be honest," Zenit midfielder Viktor Faizulin told Sovetski Sport. "But my knees haven't been shaking at all."

Some 900 Zenit fans are expected to make the trip to Italy to support their team.

Russian teams have a particularly unsuccessful record against Italian clubs. In 17 games against Italian opposition since the break up of the Soviet Union, they have only recorded one victory - Dynamo Moscow's 2-1 away win against Torino in 1992. Juventus have met Russian opposition four times since 1991 and have a 100% record.

The 2008/09 Champions League is the first for Juventus since the Italian giants were demoted to the second tier of Italian soccer after a corruption scandal in 2006. They immediately earned promotion to Serie A, however, and their first season back in the elite saw them finish third, earning a place in Europe's most prestigious club competition.

Juventus are the bookmakers' favourites, with William Hill making Juventus 8/11 for the win compared to 17/4 for Zenit. The draw is 12/5.

The match kicks off at 10:45 p.m. Moscow time (18:45 GMT) and will be shown live on the NTV + satellite channel.

The other game in Zenit's group sees another Champions League debutant, Belarusian champions BATE Borisov, travel to Spanish giants Real Madrid. Bookmakers make BATE 26-1 to pull off a shock victory, and 101-1 to win by more than two goals.

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