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UEFA Champions League Group C preview: Malaga set to advance

Malaga can seal their spot in the Champions League’s last 16 while the battle for second in Group C could go down to the wire.

Realistically Malaga need only a point away to Zenit St Petersburg on Wednesday to guarantee their place in the knockout stage.

The Spanish side lead the group with 10 points from pursuers AC Milan (five), Anderlecht (four) and Zenit (three).

Zenit’s big-money signing Hulk is set to return for the clash at the Stadion Petrovskij though, and Russia is a notoriously difficult place to go for any side with three points on their mind.

The Brazilian striker has scored only three goals in 11 games since his 50-million euro move from Porto but head coach Luciano Spalletti will hope he has his shooting boots on for Malaga’s visit.

The Russian side’s preparations have been far from ideal with their Premier League match against Dynamo Moscow abandoned on Sunday after Zenit fans struck Dynamo keeper Anton Shunin in the eye with a firecracker.

The fallout from the match in Moscow could see Zenit handed a 3-0 league defeat and a hefty fine.

Anything other than a win for Zenit on Wednesday would allow AC Milan to seal second spot and a place in the next round with a win over Anderlecht at the Stade Constant Vanden Stock.

In-form Italian international Stephan El Shaarawy scored another brace against Napoli on Saturday and will be the key figure for Milan in Belgium.

But Anderlecht are a tough nut to crack at home, having lost only once all season on their patch, against Malaga.

Milan have been rather disappointing in both Serie A and the Champions League this season during a rebuilding phase but are still favourites to go through second in the group if they can earn a positive result against Anderlecht.

Tue 20 November, 2012
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