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  Tuesday, September 17, 2019
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Zenit St. Petersburg host Spanish club giants Real Madrid on Tuesday
Zenit St. Petersburg host Spanish club giants Real Madrid on Tuesday evening in a game that the Russian side's midfielder, Viktor Faizulin, has described as a match he has been waiting his whole life for.

"I've been waiting for this game for a long time," Faizulin, 22, told Sport-Weekend. "My whole life, I guess you could say. Real is a great team, and matches against opponents like that you remember forever."

Zenit, controlled by state-run energy giants Gazprom, are the current Russian champions and the holders of the UEFA Cup. They also beat Manchester United 2-1 in August in the Super Cup, the annual fixture between the winners of the Champions League and the UEFA Cup.

However, despite Zenit's recent success, the game against Real Madrid is arguably the biggest yet in the club's 88-year history. The 2008/09 Champions League is the side's first season in Europe's most prestigious club competition, and Zenit will be looking to establish themselves as one of the continent's top teams.

Zenit began their debut Champions League campaign with a 1-0 defeat in Turin to Juventus two weeks ago. Despite the defeat, the St Petersburg side attracted praise for their disciplined performance, and could easily have come away with a win, record signing Danny missing a great chance to give the Russians the lead in the 11th minute.

Real do not travel well in the Champions League - it is almost two years since their last victory away from home in the tournament - and Zenit will be hoping that home support will propel them to a famous victory.

"I'm expecting a tough game," said Real manager, Bernd Schuster. "Zenit lost their first game, and with the support of their fans they will be desperate to win."

Zenit moved up into sixth place in the domestic league on Saturday with a 3-0 win away to Lokomotiv Moscow. A fixture backlog connected with their 2007/08 UEFA Cup campaign caused problems for the side in their defense of the Russian title, and the club are now hoping to finish in the top three to earn a Champions League place for next season.

Zenit manager's Dutch manager Dick Advocaat has said that he will be satisfied with any result other than a defeat against Real, adding that the pressure was on their opponents, and that Zenit were the underdogs.

"To beat Real we are going to need some luck and the total support of the fans." said Zenit star Andrei Arshavin.

Zenit are expecting a full stadium for the match, which kicks off at 8.30 p.m. local time (16:30 GMT). The game will be shown live on Russia's Sport channel.


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