Hulk draws praise from Bjelica
By Football News
Austria Vienna head coach Nenad Bjelica has labelled Hulk 'a world-class player' as he prepares to thwart Zenit St Petersburg's Brazilian.
Hulk has scored five goals in Zenit's last four games, including one in his side's 3-1 loss to Atletico Madrid on the first matchday of this season's UEFA Champions League.
The 27-year-old Brazilian forward has seven goals in nine games for Zenit in all competitions this season but is not even his club's leading goalscorer with Danny (eight goals) the most prolific marksman for Luciano Spalletti's team.
But Bjelica remains convinced Hulk is the man to be wary of after Vienna's coach watched the strong striker score once and set up two more goals in Zenit's 4-2 win over Spartak Moscow on Saturday.
"Yes, I saw the match between Zenit and Spartak as well as their other games," Bjelica said on Monday.
"They are a very good team.
"For example, Hulk is a world-class player, who could play at Barcelona or any other club on the planet."
Both Vienna and Zenit head into Tuesday's fixture without a point in Group G after the Austrians lost 1-0 in front of their own fans to Porto a fortnight ago.
Long-term absentees Alexander Grunwald, Marko Stankovic, Alexander Gorgon and Kaja Rogulj are all still injured and have been left in Vienna, while midfielder Emir Dilaver is also unavailable after he sustained a hamstring injury in a 1-0 loss away to Admira over the weekend.
Another two midfielders, Thomas Murg and Daniel Royer, are available again, however, which should give Bjelica some confidence to take on Zenit.
Zenit's loss to Atletico is their only defeat in their past seven games, while, by contrast, Vienna are in terrible form with just one victory in seven matches.
But Vienna were impressive against Porto and only lost due to a lack of composure up front, and Bjelica says his team will again be competitive against Zenit.
"Both teams have great players but all will become clear only during the game itself," the 42-year-old Croatian said.