The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
After perfect start in Spanish league, Atletico faces Zenit St. Petersburg in Champions League
MADRID - After four straight wins to open the Spanish league season, Atletico Madrid will next face Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday in the Champions League with a chance to remain perfect.
Although Atletico's attack will be missing Radamel Falcao, who left for cash-rich Monaco in the off-season, the team has former Barcelona striker David Villa up front.
Villa was one four scorers in Atletico's 4-2 victory over Almeria over the weekend, along with Diego Costa, Raul Garcia and Tiago Cardoso.
Austria Vienna will host FC Porto in the other Group G match.
Atletico will take on Zenit without Costa, a 24-year-old forward who is suspended for the match. Besides the goal against Almeria, the Brazil international also scored two in the opening 3-1 win over Sevilla.
At the back, Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has only conceded two goals at home this season. On Wednesday, he'll be making his Champions League debut.
"I have wanted to play in the Champions League since I was a kid and I'm really excited about doing it with Atletico," Courtois said. "We have to give it our all."
Zenit is in second place in the Russian league, and beat Terek Grozny 2-0 over the weekend.
"We are playing better and better every match," Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti said.
Zenit will be without midfielder Roman Shirokov, who injured his groin in the first half against Terek. Defender Alexander Anyukov will also miss the match.
Austria Vienna, which is making its Champions League debut, is the first Austrian team to reach the group stage since Rapid Vienna in 2005.
"(We) must play perfect football to stage an upset," Austria Vienna coach Nenad Bjelica said. "Porto has a solid defence, is technically strong and has a great player for each position."
Porto, the Portuguese champion for the past three years, is off to a perfect start in the domestic campaign and is already leading the Portuguese league by two points after four games.
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