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Zenit regroup for Rubin after Saransk flop

01 December 2014, 19:26

Moscow - Russian league leaders Zenit St Petersburg hope to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat at lowly Mordovia Saransk when they travel to Rubin Kazan on Wednesday.

Despite the weekend slump Zenit have a five-point lead at the top over second-placed FC Krasnodar, who tackle city rivals Kuban in the southern derby, also on Wednesday.

Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas, who blamed the defeat at Saransk on a lapse of concentration, told his players, however, to put the slip-up behind them.

"We've made a mistake but we should forget it as soon as possible," said the former Porto and Chelsea handler.

"But we should also learn from our mistakes, to avoid them in the future.

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"Now we need to focus on the match with Rubin. A win in Kazan will maintain our lead in the Premiership."

Zenit could be without two top players as Brazilian target man Hulk picked up his fourth booking of the season on Saturday and will sit out the game in the stands. While Javi Garcia also remains a doubt having pulled a muscle in the Champions League match with Benfica that left him unfit at the weekend.

Meanwhile, Rubin head coach Rinat Bilyaletdinov is preparing his players to take the battle to the league leaders.

"We wasted a lot of energy in the match with Dynamo," Bilyaletdinov said.

"It will be hard to take on Zenit just two days later. But we shall mobilise ourselves for Wednesday's game, we have no other choice but to battle at our best."

FC Krasnodar, who earned a hard-fought 1-0 win at Terek Grozny to narrow the gap on Zenit, also expect a tough clash with city rivals Kuban.

Oleg Kononov, FC Krasnodar head coach, said he was worried about his team's lack of freshness, which was there for all to see in the match with Terek.

"We had a really tough match at Grozny just two days after the Europa League meeting with Lille," Kononov said. "And we obviously lacked freshness, especially late in the game.

"But I'm pleased with the result of Sunday's match despite the performance. I'm just afraid that in the derby the same thing will happen again."

Reigning champions CSKA Moscow, who thrashed Ufa 5-0 on Saturday to end their three-match losing streak, will open the matchday programme on Tuesday when they host Amkar Perm.

"We were really happy to end our losing streak, which had been infuriating the players," CSKA head coach Leonid Slutsky said.

"We've already dropped too many points and are currently in a must-win situation to keep our chances of retaining the title alive."

Fixtures (all times GMT)


CSKA Moscow v Amkar Perm (1600), Arsenal Tula v Ufa (1600)


Rubin Kazan v Zenit St Petersburg (1445), Lokomotiv Moscow v Ural Yekaterinburg (1600), Kuban Krasnodar v FC Krasnodar (1700), terek Grozny v Torpedo Moscow (1700)


Mordovia Saransk v Dynamo Moscow (1445), Spartak Moscow v Rostov (1645)



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