BANKROLLED by the energy company Gazprom, recently named third largest by market value, it is not surprising that Zenit St Petersburg are equipped with some big-time players.
Much has been made of the absence of striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, who is the equal leading scorer in this year's Uefa Cup tournament along with Luca Toni. But there are others more than capable of taking the strain tonight in the City of Manchester stadium. Gazprom ploughed 30million into the team and also currently building a 60,000 capacity stadium. But the real mark of success has been the Russian league title won last year and their run to this season's Uefa Cup final.
Below are the main men who will be bidding to bring only a second European trophy back to Russia tonight.
Although one of the leading players in the absence of Pogrebnyak, Arshavin did not cost a ruble since he was picked up as a youngster. Arshavin joined Zenit in 1999 and proved inspirational in their title bid last season, scoring ten goals.
The fact he missed the second leg of the semi-final against Bayern Munich, which Zenit won 4-0, suggests that Dick Advocaat's team are not reliant on just one or two stars.
But Arshavin is recognised as the player who makes them tick, and is currently rumoured to be interesting a number of English Premier League clubs. He has confessed a desire to play in England one day, with Everton credited with the greatest interest. Arshavin played against the Goodison Park side in the group stage of the Uefa Cup when Zenit lost 1-0. He can play in attacking midfield role or just off a main striker. Expected to be the orchestrator for Zenit tonight.
The Zenit skipper and an experienced Ukraine internationalist. He spent ten years at Shakhtar Donetsk, where he established himself as one of the finest midfielders in Europe.
He reached the quarter-final of the World Cup with Ukraine and is relishing this return to the big stage. The 29-year-old is reckoned to be the first name on Advocaat's team-sheet, likely to stand out for more than just his distinct blond hair and who gains the upper hand in midfield – Barry Ferguson or Tymoschuk – will be among the most intriguing questions tonight.
The well-travelled Croatian internationalist joined Zenit in 2005. He won a league championship medal with Sparta Prague in Czech Republic and also played for Groclin and Gornik in Poland.
He will likely be asked to mark Jean-Claude Darcheville tonight, and already has experience of playing at Manchester City's stadium – if not the City of Manchester stadium. He played for Groclin when they shocked a Manchester City side which included the likes of David Seaman, Robbie Fowler, David Seaman and former Rangers player Claudio Reyna by drawing 1-1 at Maine Road in the Uefa Cup.
A 0-0 result in the second leg in Poland saw Groclin progress. "I could never have said then I'd be back at Man City's stadium for a Uefa Cup Final," he has admitted. Has been handed his chance along side Roman Shirokov in defence due to injury to Belgian Niko Lombaerts.
A much-loved player in his Turkish homeland, the striker was signed from Trabzonspor in 2006. Now 30, he has been an intermittent starter for Zenit but with Progrebnyak suspended he is likely to be included tonight. A prolific goalscorer in Turkey, where he scored 77 goals in 114 league games. Expected to move on in the summer.
Helped destroy Bayern Munich in the second-leg of the semi-final and set-up two of the four goals. His talent was revealed at the World Youth championships in 2001 when he was in the Argentina side which lifted the title. Wended up in Russia and broke the record transfer fee inside the Russian Premier League when he moved between Rubin Kazan and Zenit for 5million two years ago. He was voted best foreign player of the year in 2006.