Freezing St Petersburg awaits Benfica | sports | Hindustan Times
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Freezing St Petersburg awaits Benfica

Zenit St Petersburg must overcome the absence of their most creative player, midfielder Danny, when they face Benfica in a Champions League last-16, first leg tie on Wednesday.

sports Updated: Feb 15, 2012 00:18 IST

Zenit St Petersburg must overcome the absence of their most creative player, midfielder Danny, when they face Benfica in a Champions League last-16, first leg tie on Wednesday.

The Portugal international is out for eight months after tearing knee ligaments in training last week.

“Danny is a very important player for us but a club like Zenit should not depend on just one player,” coach Luciano Spalletti said.

“Other players must raise their game and help us overcome this problem,” added the Italian who last week committed his long-term future to Zenit.

Spalletti has extended his contract with the big-spending club, backed by Russian energy giant Gazprom, until 2015.

Zenit are also without Italy defender Domenico Criscito due to food poisoning and have injury worries over goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev, midfielder Roman Shirokov and striker Danko Lazovic.

The experienced Malafeyev, who is nursing a calf strain, has kept a clean sheet in the last three Champions League outings.

With temperatures dipping below -15 Celcius in St Petersburg over the past week, officials said they would make a decision on the match shortly before kickoff.