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Playing CSKA Will Boost Zenit for Benfica Clash - Alves

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Zenit St. Petersburg's upcoming game against Russian title rivals CSKA Moscow will give them the confidence to face Portuguese side Benfica in the Champions League three days later, Zenit center-back Bruno Alves said Tuesday.

Zenit St. Petersburg's upcoming game against Russian title rivals CSKA Moscow will give them the confidence to face Portuguese side Benfica in the Champions League three days later, Zenit center-back Bruno Alves said Tuesday.

 

Zenit lead the Russian Premier League by six points from CSKA, who they will play March 3, before going to Lisbon for the second leg of their Champions League first knockout round tie on March 6, after winning 3-2 in St. Petersburg last week.

 

"The match against CSKA will happen at a good time. We're relaxed, we'll be full of strength. This game could give us confidence, too, that we'll really be ready [for Benfica]," Alves told Zenit's official website.

 

Alves said he had watched Benfica's 1-0 Portuguese league defeat to Vitoria de Guimaraes on Monday, commenting that Benfica had not been able to score despite having a lot of chances.

 

"Maybe everything's not quite in order with their self-belief, I don't know. But that doesn't concern us. We'll continue to work and to do everything to be in good condition for the second leg," he said.

 

Zenit will take advantage of the Russian winter break by travelling to Portugal on Saturday to acclimatize during a ten-day training camp.

 

The club used the same strategy before facing Portuguese champions Porto in their final group stage match in December, where Zenit secured a goalless draw that was enough to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages for the first time.

 

Portuguese international defender Alves started his career at Porto and spent time on loan at Vitoria de Guimaraes before moving to Zenit in 2010.

 

Alves has made 58 appearances for Zenit, scoring one goal, against AEK Athens in the Europa League in 2010.

 

He has played 47 times for Portugal, scoring five goals and often playing alongside Zenit teammate Miguel Danny.

 

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