Villas-Boas bullish as champions Zenit tackle Terek
Reigning champions Zenit Saint Petersburg aim to extend their perfect start to the new season when they face Terek Grozny in the Russian Premier League on Saturday.
Andre Villas-Boas’ Zenit share the lead in the Premiership with two Moscow sides, last season’s runners-up CSKA and Lokomotiv, who all go into week three with a maximum six points.
Terek have won the last two meetings between the teams at Saint Petersburg’s Petrovsky stadium but Villas-Boas is confident his players can turn the tables this time round.
“We had a great match at Yekaterinburg a week ago,” the former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager said.
“The whole team moved incred- ibly from the points of view of tactics and physical condition. We’re getting better from match to match.
“The upcoming meeting with Terek is no less important for us as we have a chance to extend our lead in the league.
“Our fans are happy: we have earned the title and lead the league right now. But we all should keep working hard to maintain the status quo.”
Meanwhile, former two- time champions Lokomotiv Moscow face a tough examination of their ambitions on Sunday when they face city rivals Dynamo.
The side, backed by Russia’s vast state railway, have 22 wins in this derby to their name against 14 for Dynamo since the end of the USSR.
“We’ve made a good start to the season but the derby clash is a very special case,” Lokomotiv manager Igor Cherevchenko said.
“I expect a tough match against Dynamo, who without doubt want to improve their position in the table.
“I believe in my team’s chances. Lokomotiv today is just like family with one for all and all for one. I expect an interesting game on Sunday.”
Dynamo, who have started the season missing a number of injured players, including Congolese and Brazilian full backs Christopher Samba and Douglas, have failed to chalk up a win so far.
“The injuries and the red card to Tomas Hubocan in the seasonopener forced us to rotate the most dangerous zone — defense,” Dy- namo head coach Andrei Kobelev said.
“We desperately need to stabilize our line-up as soon as possible.”
Last season’s runners-up CSKA Moscow will turn their focus back to domestic action as they face promoted Anzhi Makhachkala on Saturday after a draw midweek in their Champions League qualifying match with Czech high-flyers Sparta Prague.
The Red Army side took the lead twice in the home tie but failed to cling onto the lead as Sparta leveled twice to earn a 2-2 draw.
CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky was upset both with the result and his team’s performance against the Czech outfit.
“It was a match of missed opportunities for us,” he said.