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Zenith test title ambition at Dynamo

20 March 2015, 13:36

Moscow - Zenit St Petersburg will bid to bounce back from recent reversals and test their title ambitions at Dynamo Moscow in Russian Premier league action this weekend.

The Russian league leaders suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Torino on Thursday but made it into the Europa League quarter-finals winning 2-1 on aggregate.

Zenit have 45 points from 19 matches, five ahead of defending champions CSKA Moscow, while third-placed Dynamo, who crashed out of the Europa League with a 3-1 aggregate defeat at the hands of another Italian club Napoli, are 10 points behind.

"We had a good match (with Torino) from the point of view of our movement on defense, I'm happy with that," Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas said.

"Now we need to focus on Dynamo. It's a very important game for us in every aspect and I expect a tough and interesting match on Sunday."

Clashes between the two sides are always tension-filled as the Saint Petersburg outfit have twice been punished with 3-0 technical defeats for crowd trouble in recent games against the Moscow club.

A game in November 2012 was abandoned when a firecracker, thrown by a Zenit fan, injured Dynamo goalkeeper Anton Shunin.

In May, a pitch invasion forced the game to be abandoned and cost Zenit the title as they finished last season just one point behind winners CSKA Moscow.

Dynamo head coach Stanislav Cherchesov is expecting his team to show quality after their Europa League exit.

"I think we showed a solid performance in Europa League: just one defeat in 14 matches," he said.

"I believe this experience will help us to perform the same quality football in the national championship.

"We hope to achieve a positive result in the last Premier League match before the break for international matches to close the gap to the league's leaders."

Meanwhile, champions CSKA will hope to grab all three points in the match with lowly Arsenal Tula on Saturday.

The match was switched to the synthetic pitch of Lokomotiv Moscow's reserve arena because of the poor quality of the surface at the Tula stadium.

Arsenal management have asked the league to postpone the match and threatened to field a reserve line-up if their request is rejected.

"It was supposed to be a great occasion for all football lovers here but the league has deprived them of this pleasure," manager Dmitry Alenichev said. "It's an outrageous injustice against Tula football fans."

CSKA general director Roman Babayan sympathised with his rivals.

"It's a pity that the match with Arsenal has been marred by a scandal before the kick off," he said.

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