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Football | Champions League

John van den Brom © Reuters Images

Zenit, Anderlecht play for Europa spot



The only item left to determine in Group C of the Champions League is which side will qualify for the Europa League - Zenit St. Petersburg or Anderlecht.

Malaga has already won the group with 11 points, and AC Milan has advanced in second place with eight. Zenit and Anderlecht both have four points.

Zenit visits a Milan side Tuesday that appears set to rest top scorer Stephen El Shaarawy, while Anderlecht goes to Malaga.

Zenit is third on goal difference, with its head-to-head record with Anderlecht level.

So if both of the final group matches end in draws, Zenit will advance. Anderlecht needs to pick up more points than Zenit or move ahead on goal difference.

The 20-year-old El Shaarawy has scored 14 goals between Serie A and the Champions League this season, but Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri appears inclined to give Giampaolo Pazzini a rare start at the San Siro.

Milan midfielder Riccardo Montolivo could also sit out, due to a muscle problem, and defender Philippe Mexes is suspended.

Allegri and Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti are both from Tuscany and were born 80 kilometres (50 miles) apart.

When they played in October, Milan beat Zenit 3-2 in St. Petersburg with a late own-goal by Slovakia defender Tomas Hubocan, spoiling Zenit's comeback.

Zenit midfielder Vladimir Bystrov is suspended after picking up a red card in a 2-2 draw with Malaga two weeks ago.

Anderlecht extended its lead in the Belgian league following a narrow 2-1 win over lowly Cercle Bruges over the weekend, despite a miserable performance.

"We got to get over this game and look at the task at hand against Malaga," Anderlecht coach John van den Brom said.

Anderlecht will miss defender Bram Nuytinck, who was sent off against Milan two weeks ago.

Malaga lost at Getafe 1-0 on Saturday and might also want to rest some key players with matches coming up against Sevilla and Real Madrid later this month.

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