Apoel Nicosia v Zenit preview

Apoel were drawn alongside Tuesday night’s opponents Zenit St
Petersburg, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk in a pool which looks strong
without having an overwhelming favourite. He said: “We must admit
that the group is very difficult. All the opponents we face are
strong. “I honestly cannot pick a favourite because all three of
our opponents have won a European trophy in the recent past. “It is
impossible to say who the strongest team are. I think the battle
for the first two positions will be tough.” Macedonian Trickovski
is also aware the financial clout in Russian football has enabled
Zenit to bring in a host of top-class players from around the
world, adding: “Zenit are a very good team and we approach the game
with the utmost concentration. “In Europe everyone knows Zenit have
won the UEFA Cup and were runners-up in the UEFA Super Cup. “Many
players are known by their presence with the national teams. There
are internationals from Russia, Portugal, Italy, Slovakia, Belgium
and other countries. “So we can say that we face an emerging
European power.” Zenit president Alexander Dyukov agrees with
Trickovski’s assertion that the pool will be difficult to emerge
from successfully. He told the club’s official website: “Porto and
Shakhtar are very strong teams. “Of course the image of these clubs
is not so well known and they do not sound as imposing as say Inter
Milan, Bayern Munich or Arsenal but matches are not decided by
image but by performance on the field. “And in my opinion, the
skill and class levels of Shakhtar and Porto are no lower than the
aforementioned teams.” That is not to say Dyukov expects an easy
ride in their opener at the GSP Stadium, located just outside the
Cypriot capital, especially with Apoel defending a seven-match
unbeaten home run in Europe. “They are a very good team which will
challenge us,” he added. “I agree with what (Zenit coach) Luciano
(Spalletti) said – the first match will be very difficult. “Apoel
are very good technically and play swift football. “It will also be
hot in Cyprus and they will be backed by their passionate
supporters.”