DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht will do their best to hold off leaders Zenit on their visit to Russia while Jozy Altidore and Villarreal will look to overcome Dinamo Zagreb to help their chances for a knockout berth
Zenit St. Petersburg - RSC Anderlecht
Sacha Kljestan is a likely candidate to get the start in Anderlecht's midfield on Wednesday when they visit undefeated Group G leaders Zenit St. Petersburg.
With the Russians running away easily with the group, Anderlecht are locked in a three-way battle for the remaining spot destined for the knockout round with AEK and Hajduk Split.
The Purple-Whites currently hold the slight edge, ahead of their Greek counterparts by goal differential and one lone point above the Croatians, however with the trip to St. Petersburg likely the toughest game of this stage, they could find themselves facing an uphill battle in their final game.
Zenit just completed their Russian Premier League campaign over the weekend, and enter the game as domestic champions despite only managing to win once in their last four tries.
Anderlecht cruised to a 4-1 win over the weekend against third-place Gent, and are currently holding a one-point lead in the Jupiler League standings just past the season's midway point.
They will be missing several players; Lucas Biglia is recovering from a hamstring tear while Mbark Boussoufa, Olivier Deschacht and Nemanja Rnic have all remained in Belgium as they continue to come back from ankle injuries.
Zenit will be without midfielders Igor Denisov, Vladimir Bystrov, Sergei Semak and Viktor Fayzulin as well as forward Aleksandr Kerzhakov and goalkeeper Dmitri Borodin, all of whom have been listed as injured by coach Luciano Spalletti.
Villarreal CF - Dinamo Zagreb
Jozy Altidore will hope to see significant playing time for Villarreal on Thursday evening when they host Dinamo Zagreb in a crucial Group D matchup.
All is still up for grabs in the group, as first through third place are all separated by one point. While last-place Brugge are long-shots to have any chance at the knockout round, PAOK, Zagreb and Villarreal are all still in contention for either winning the group or seeing their European run come to an abrupt completion before the end of the year.
Villarreal lost a close game on the road to group leaders PAOK four weeks ago to fall to third place, and will look to push back up into the top two spots by taking advantage of their still perfect record in the competition at home.
They are coming off a commanding La Liga victory over the weekend against Real Saragossa, and have proven so far to be the best of the rest in Spain this season, with only Real Madrid and Barcelona currently ahead of them in the standings.
Yellow Submarine coach Juan Carlos Garrido does have a pair of absences to his squad; Joan Capdevila is out with a sprained ankle while Joan Oriol has an injury to his left leg.
Zagreb players Igor Bišćan and Šime Vrsaljko are both questionable for the game despite traveling with the full squad, the former with a pulled muscle and latter with a minor flu bug.
Freddy Adu will watch from afar when Aris visit holders Atlético Madrid in Group B action.