ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) – FC Porto will put its perfect record in Russia on the line when it visits Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday in Group G of the Champions League.
Porto, which won the Europa League last season, can take control of the group with a second straight victory - and a fifth straight in Russia. Zenit, meanwhile, is looking to rebound from an opening loss at APOEL Nicosia, which plays at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Zenit will be without suspended defender Bruno Alves and injured midfielders Sergei Semak and Vladimir Bystrov, while goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev is also questionable with a back injury. Still, the Russian champions are confident ahead of the match at the Petrovski Stadium.
''Last spring I said that Porto is one of the best clubs in Europe, but I would not have been jealous of them now,'' Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti said. ''Porto is a club of very great traditions, but we will beat them tomorrow.''
Zenit is coming off two straight domestic victories and is at the top of the Russian standings, two points ahead of CSKA Moscow.
Porto drew 2-2 against Benfica on Saturday to remain unbeaten run in Portugal since February. Colombian midfielder James Rodriguez returns for the Portuguese champions, who are without suspended midfielder Fredy Guarin. Uruguay defender Alvaro Pereira is also fit after a series of minor injuries.
''This group's a four-way fight,'' Porto coach Vitor Pereira said. ''It's a very strong group and it'll probably go down to the wire.''
Shakhtar, meanwhile, will be relying on its strong home record to lead it to a first group victory. The 2009 UEFA Cup champions were unbeaten in their last 15 games - with 11 victories - at the Donbass Arena before a quarterfinal loss to eventual Champions League winner Barcelona last season.
''I'm sure nothing is lost for us,'' Shakhtar midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan said. ''We have five more matches ahead and will have to play hard in each one. ''
The Cypriots, who beat Zenit 2-1 in their opener, were 1-0 winners over Aris Limassol in league play on Saturday.