Zenit have been on a winter break since early December but are imperious at home in Europe. Jamie Dickenson is backing them to keep Brendan Rodgers’ side at bay
Liverpool face a tricky Europa League first leg tie in Russia’s second-largest city when they meet Zenit St Petersburg at the Petrovsky Stadium on Thursday evening.
The Reds last European game saw them triumph 1-0 at Udinese, and another victory on the continent is priced at 21/10 (3.10) with bookmakers Coral.
Brendan Rodgers’ men may have given off the impression of an improving side in recent weeks – by earning draws at both Arsenal and Manchester City – but have just one victory from their last six in all competitions and slumped to a 2-0 defeat at home to West Brom in their last Premier League game.
Zenit could be accused of rustiness going into this game though, having last completed a competitive match on December 10, when they drew 1-1 with fellow Russian heavyweights Anzhi Makhachkala in their domestic league.
Another draw in this game looks quite reasonable at 23/10 (3.30), but the Saint Petersburg outfit can shake off any cobwebs by beating a Liverpool team who have a real problem with consistency, with the hosts available at 13/10 (2.30).
Zenit have only lost one of their last 19 games at home in European competition, and failed to make the Champions League knock-out rounds by just a point behind AC Milan in Group C.
Currently third in the Russian Premier League, Luciano Spalletti’s side would relish lifting the Europa League this campaign and they certainly have the star names to go on a prolonged cup run.
Their price to win the first leg on home soil looks pretty generous – but bearing in mind some players could be short of match sharpness – siding with the Zenitchiki in the draw no bet market at a still tempting 7/10 (1.70) looks a smart move. This will see your stake returned if it ends all square.
Expensive signings Axel Witsel and Hulk – who cost over £30 million each – have now been at the club nearly six months and will feel more integrated in the side, which already boasted talents such as Portugal playmaker Danny.
That trio really is a cut above for the Europa League, and Liverpool will find it hard to cope with so many dangerous players in attacking positions in their opponents line-up.
With Russia international’s Aleksandr Kerzhakov and midfielder Roman Shirokov also in the squad it’s hard to predict where the goals will come from, as Zenit have plenty of options across the pitch.
Attacking midfielder Danny has a tendency to blow hot and cold (he was even sent-off against Anzhi last time out), but the 29-year-old scored in Zenit’s last two European games against Milan and Malaga and his odds of 11/4 (3.75) to strike anytime are too good to ignore for those seeking a value bet.
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Jamie Dickenson is a 22-year-old freelance journalist who specialises in football, sports and betting.
More of his work can be found here – and you can also follow Jamie on
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