Zenit, Lokomotiv meet in Russian title showdown
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Russian Premier League leaders Zenit St. Petersburg travel to the capital to take on nearest challengers Lokomotiv Moscow on Sunday in a potentially decisive encounter in the title race.

Zenit have enjoyed a fresh lease of life since former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas took over as coach in March, winning six consecutive league games and scoring 18 goals in the process.

That form has kept them one point clear of Lokomotiv, who are themselves unbeaten in 11 league games since early November, while defending champions CSKA Moscow lie four points off the pace in third.

However, the 36-year-old Portuguese coach dismissed any suggestion that he might be tempted to play for a draw this weekend.

"I think that I, as a coach, and the coaches of CSKA and Lokomotiv are all preparing their teams only to win," he said. "So we're going to work to win, and we have to do so. There's no point thinking about getting a draw. Yes, it's possible that a draw will preserve our lead, but it's most important to get a win."

Zenit will be boosted by the return of both Brazilian forward Hulk - their top scorer with 16 league goals - and Italian defender Domenico Criscito, who both sat out last weekend's 2-0 win against Volga Nizhny Novogorod due to suspension.

Meanwhile, Lokomotiv coach Leonid Kuchuk will be without their influential Croatian defender Vedran Corluka, who is suspended after collecting an eighth yellow card of the season in the 3-1 victory at FC Krasnodar last week.

"It's true that Corluka's absence will cause trouble for Lokomotiv, but they have other players too," Villas-Boas added. "There has to be rotation in the team, and naturally Loko will be able to fill his position, even though Corluka is very important. The situation is such now that everything depends on us. And we're hoping to get the corresponding result, in other words to win."

CSKA are poised to take advantage of any slip-up by either side as they take on Amkar Perm on Friday chasing an eighth successive league victory.

"We have no other choice but to win at Perm as we want to stay in the title race as long as we can," CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky said, whose side are due to face Lokomotiv on the final day of the season.

Russian Premier League fixtures 
Friday
Amkar Perm v CSKA Moscow
Volga Nizhny Novgorod v FC Krasnodar
Rostov v Dynamo Moscow

Saturday
Tomsk v Spartak Moscow
Kuban Krasnodar v Samara
Rostov v Dynamo Moscow

Sunday
Lokomotiv Moscow v Zenit St. Petersburg
Rubin Kazan v Ural Yekaterinburg
Anzhi Makhachkala v Terek Grozny