Zenit v Torino: Lodygin eyes continued stellar start to 2015
Yuri Lodygin sees no reason why Zenit's impressive start to action in 2015 cannot continue when Torino visit the Stadion Petrovsky in the UEFA Europa League last 16 on Thursday.
The Russian side have shown no ill-effects after a two-and-a-half-month break from competitive football in recent weeks, cruising to wins in their three fixtures without conceding a single goal.
Two of those games were against runaway Eredivisie leaders PSV in the Europa League's previous stage before Zenit resumed their Russian Premier League campaign with a 3-0 victory over Ural on Saturday to maintain their seven-point advantage at the top.
Andre Villas-Boas' side blew away PSV 3-0 on home soil in the last round and Lodygin has called for no let-up when Serie A's eighth-placed team visit Russia.
He told Zenit's official website: "It was pretty clear that it wasn't going to be too easy for us to get back into the swing of things in the Russian League.
"We knew that our opponent would be playing from the back and defending well and at the beginning we were trying to find some open spaces.
"We were able to attack just like we wanted to.
"I'd like to continue with winning streak. I've been really happy with the team over the last few games.
"Everyone has been moving well, helping each other, playing well in defence.
"Everyone knew what they should do. The result of this is that we are continuing to play well and we are getting ready for some new experiences coming up."
Zenit will be hoping for some inside information from Italian left-back Domenico Criscito, who issued a word of warning for his colleagues.
"Torino is a really good Italian team, and according to European standards too," he said.
"Strong players, strong coach — it's not going to be simple with them."
Criscito's words come into sharp focus given Torino's exploits in Europe this term.
The Italians ended their group-stage campaign with a 5-1 thrashing of FC Copenhagen in the Danish capital, while securing progression from the round of 32 with a thrilling 3-2 win at Athletic Bilbao – typically tough opponents on their own patch.
A poor showing away from Turin saw Giampiero Ventura's side throw away an early lead to go down 3-2 at Udinese, and the coach is keen to make amends.
He told Mediaset Premium: "I am sorry because we faced a team with the will to win, the will we did not have.
"Our chances of going through in the Europa League? Also at San Mames [home of Athletic] it seemed difficult.
"Today's Toro would have lost. The Toro which played in Spain was another.
"Our chances of going through depend on which Toro will play."