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Villas-Boas out to extend Zenit winning streak

18 Apr 2014 00:47:05

Villas-Boas out to extend Zenit winning streak

Zenit St Petersburg coach Andre Villas-Boas will this weekend seek to extend the perfect start to his tenure that has seen the team emerge as favourites to win the Russian Premier League.

The ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea manager, who replaced Luciano Spalletti in the Zenit dugout last month, will take his team to bottom-placed Anzhi Makhachkala on Saturday looking to make it five wins from five matches in charge.

Villas-Boas has taken Zenit to the top of the league, one point ahead of second-placed Lokomotiv Moscow with five games remaining, and the 36-year-old said he was pleased with his players' attitude.

"My team look very motivated to win the title this season," said the Portuguese coach.

"I'm happy to see my players strong desire to win and the team spirit that allows us to play effective football.

"One shouldn't credit only myself for the team's achievements as the positive spirit lifts all the players with every win.

"We have a clear objective -- to win the championship. And it's clear for every one of us that we can achieve it if we win all our remaining matches."

Lokomotiv, who are chasing their third Russian title, host Zenit early next month, but for now their focus is on Saturday's home clash with Terek Grozny, another side who are involved in the fight to avoid relegation.

Leonid Kuchuk's side lost top spot last week when they were held to a goalless draw by Anzhi but they are refusing to throw in the towel.

"There's no tragedy, the real battle for the title has just begun," said Kuchuk.

"Earlier this season we were six points behind Zenit, now the gap is just one point. So I'm in a relaxed mood bearing in mind that there's a head-to-head meeting with Zenit in Moscow in May.

"We just need to avoid dropping points in the matches against the lowly-placed teams. We still have our fate in our own hands."

The defending champions CSKA Moscow, currently third, four points behind Zenit, face a tough test in Krasnodar on Sunday against ninth-placed Kuban.

The Red Army side are coming off a defeat to Krasnodar in the semi-finals of the Russian Cup this midweek, but they have won their last five league matches.

"In all our matches we show periods of top-quality football," CSKA head coach Leonid Slutsky said.

"Our main goal is to extend these periods as long as possible, to show quality play throughout our matches. The upcoming match with Kuban will be a serious test of our capacity to do that."

Fixtures

Friday

Amkar Perm v Ural Yekaterinburg

Saturday

Tomsk v Samara, Lokomotiv Moscow v Terek Grozny, Anzhi Makhachkala v Zenit St Petersburg

Sunday

Rubin Kazan v Spartak Moscow, Dynamo Moscow v FC Krasnodar, Kuban Krasnodar v CSKA Moscow

Monday

Volga Nizhny Novgorod v Rostov


AFP

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