Stanko Poklepović: "Zenit is the obvious favorite"

Hajduk`s head coach gave an interview to “Our Zenit” newspaper and talked about his expectations for the match on Thursday.

– We`re happy that we`re in the Europa League group stage and that we have such worthy competition. Zenit St. Petersburg is the obvious favorite in the group, and should get first place in our group and go further. I have no doubt about that. We know that Luciano Spalletti`s men have a confident lead in the Russian Premier League and that they haven`t lost a single match all season. That`s an amazing accomplishment that many European clubs would be envious of. Perhaps we have a small advantage before the match at Petrovsky since we have fewer footballers who play for national teams. Our national team players are all in the Croatian side, and won their last match away in Israel 2:1, which is a good result for them. So they came back in a good mood and now there in good form physically. They worked together, which is also a positive. Zenit has many more national team players, and they play for all kinds of different countries. I think the Zenit coaches will need time to bring all their players together.

As for our prospects in the group stage, we have to play for second place with the Greek side AEK, and the Belgian side Anderlecht. My team is at approximately the same level as these clubs, so the fight to join the Petersburg club in the play-off round will be tough. It`s really hard to predict who the winner will be. Especially after we lost to AEK, but then managed to beat Anderlecht. We`ll play the Greeks at home, in Croatia, and that gives us a definite advantage. Furthermore, Zenit, being the strongest team, can help us if its beats our competitors, and plays for a tie against us. In this case the match in Petersburg becomes even more important. And we`re going to fight for a point which might be very important as the tournament goes on.