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Zenit St. Petersburg host Belarus' top side, BATE Borisov,
Zenit St. Petersburg host Belarus' top side, BATE Borisov, in a must-win Champions League fixture on Tuesday evening.

Zenit narrowly lost their first two Champions League Group H matches, going down 1-0 to Juventus in Turin and 2-1 to Real Madrid in St. Petersburg. Although they were widely considered to have been worth a point in each tie, the defeats leave the Russian champions bottom of the group.

BATE Borisov are Belarus' first representatives in the prestigious Champions League group stages. They also have the lowest UEFA coefficient of any side to get this far in the tournament, having battled through three qualifying rounds to earn the right to face Europe's elite clubs.

British bookmakers William Hill make Zenit overwhelming favorites for Tuesday's match, offering odds of 12/1 for a BATE victory. Zenit are 1/4 to claim all three points. The draw is 17/4.

The Belarusian club's opening Champions League match was a baptism of fire - an away game against Spanish club giants Real Madrid. Although BATE lost 2-0, they were not overwhelmed and won applause for their confident display.

Their debut Champions League home match took place two weeks later against Juventus in front of a capacity crowd at the Dynamo stadium in Minsk, and BATE shocked the Italians with two early goals. However, Juventus clawed their way back into the game, Vincenzo Iaquinta scoring twice before the break to level the tie. The game finished 2-2.

Zenit travel to Belarus on November 5 for the return fixture and the Russian club's Czech midfielder, Radek Sirl, is convinced that the 2008 UEFA Cup winners need to take maximum points from the two games.

"The next two games are the key ones. We need to win them both, at home and away. We need six points," he told the Russian Sport-Express sports daily.

"BATE are quick, very aggressive and have a lot of movement," Zenit's Dutch trainer Dick Advocaat told UEFA on Tuesday. "They like to attack and create space so they can score. Hopefully, we will not play as attractively as we did in the first two games, but win."

The game comes as Zenit attempt to persuade Advocaat to sign a year-extension to his contract, which expires at the end of 2008.

Zenit stars Andrei Arshavin, Pavel Pogrebnyak, and Anatoly Tymoschuk have all been linked with moves to European clubs in recent months, and Advocaat said recently that he would stay in St. Petersburg for one more season if the side's stars remained at the club and Zenit strengthened their squad.

The St. Petersburg side are currently in fifth place in the Russian Premier League, two places and five points off a 2009/10 Champions League spot, albeit with a game in hand over the top three.

Advocaat also said on Tuesday that he had "no doubt" that Zenit would claim a Champions League spot. In the 2009/10 season, for the first time, the top three teams in the Russian Premier League will qualify for the Champions League. The top two clubs will go into the group stages, with the third-placed team starting in the second qualifying round.

The Zenit-BATE match kicks off at 8.30 p.m. (16:30 GMT) and will be broadcast live on Russia's Sport Channel.

In Group H's other match on Tuesday, Juventus host Real Madrid.

The first two teams go through to the play-offs. The third side drops down into the UEFA Cup.

Group H (after two games):

Real Madrid - 6

Juventus - 4

BATE Borisov - 1

Zenit St. Petersburg - 0


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