Torino v Zenit: Italians face uphill task to reach quarters
Torino boast an unbeaten home record in Europe spanning back to 1993 but the Italian outfit face a difficult task attempting to overhaul Zenit for a spot in the competition's quarter-finals.
Thursday sees Torino and Zenit resume hostilities after the latter recorded a 2-0 first-leg win in their UEFA Europa League last-16 tie in Russia last week.
Marco Benassi's first-half dismissal led to Torino's demise at Petrovsky Stadium, with Axel Witsel and Domenico Criscito both on target afterwards.
Torino return to Stadio Olimpico di Torino with an impressive home record in European competition, having not tasted defeat since 1993 - winning seven matches and drawing three.
However, Zenit have won all three Europa League games without conceding a goal this season after bowing out of the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Despite the uphill task facing Torino, coach Giampiero Ventura is not giving up hope of steering his team into the quarters.
"It will be a Torino side that wants to fight for the win," Ventura said after a 2-0 loss at home to Lazio on Monday.
"We have a negative result to overturn, but that came about mainly because of the early red card."
Zenit come into the match understandably unsettled by racial abuse directed at Brazilian forward Hulk at the weekend.
Racism reared its ugly head again on Sunday after Hulk was subjected to monkey chants by a section of home support in Zenit's 1-1 draw with Torpedo Moscow at Saturn Stadium.
Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas was scathing of the perpetrators post-game, while the victim himself, Hulk, is trying to stay focused for the second leg.
"You can’t understand, accept or explain those things," the Brazil international was quoted as telling Zenit's official website. "This isn’t the first time that I’ve encountered something like this, but each time you just have to ask that everyone respect all of the players, again and again.
"However, in spite of similar things like this, whenever racism does show up, both me and the team try to stay focused on the game."