Liverpool Hoping for First Leg Advantage
Zenit St Petersburg v Liverpool
UEFA Europa League Petrovsky Stadium, Russia
Thursday 14 February, 2013 17:00 GMT
Liverpool will have their work cut out to get a result in the hostile environment of Russia in the first leg of this Europa League tie.
Zenit will be looking for an important advantage before the second leg of the tie at Anfield. The big story overshadowing this tie is the spectre of racism in Russian football and particularly some of Zenit's unofficial fan groups - however the tie is expected to not encounter any such problems especially with the heightened sensitivity and media attention.
Liverpool are slight underdogs in this game - even if Zenit have a tendency to concede goals, Liverpool are hardly a side playing free-flowing football, and the real test in this game would be to see which side can make the fewest mistakes.
The match odds listed here support a draw and odds are that Liverpool will step up and could secure a vital away goal.
Zenit St Petersburg Preview
Zenit are currently third in the Russian league and they have been a little inconsistent at home, despite a high ratio of wins. They have secured 11 wins, five draws and three defeats, scoring more goals at home than any other side with 36 but conceding more than the two clubs above them.
Injuries and Suspensions
Zenit are expecting Danny, Hulk and Axel Witsel all to be fit to start this match. Otherwise, they have a fit squad of players to choose from and no suspended players to worry about. Hulk may only start from the bench following his problems with the club earlier this season. Zenit are the slight favourites with the bookies at 5/4.
Liverpool's away form is one of the reasons they have been lingering around mid-table for most of the season. They have three wins, six draws and four defeats away from home but they have secured recent draws away at Arsenal and Manchester City. They have scored more away goals than five of the teams above them.
Injuries and Suspensions
John Flanagan and Martin Kelly will play no part in this match with long term injuries. Philippe Coutinho may miss out after finishing the game against West Brom with a slight knock but Daniel Sturridge is expected to return to the team after a minor thigh problem. Snap up odds of 11/5 if you think Liverpool can win ahead of the second leg.
Zenit St Petersburg v Liverpool Statistics
Zenit come into the Europa League after finishing third in their Champions League group. They lost three of their Champions League group games while conceding three more goals than they scored. Liverpool played superbly during the Europa League group stage to win a group that included Anzhi and Udinese. They won three matches, drew one and lost just two, they scored 11 goals which wasn't as many as Young Boys but they had the superior defence.
Head to Head: There is no head to head record of past meetings to base these two teams on. Simply, Liverpool have improved away from home while Zenit's best performances come in front of their own fans.
Zenit have been a little bit hit and miss in recent matches winning just two and losing three out of their last five. All of these matches have been played at home which shows Liverpool can get at the Russians despite their home advantage. Liverpool are yet to win in February and go into this game off the back of a home defeat to West Brom. January produced three wins, one draw and two defeats including that loss away to Oldham in the FA Cup.
Zenit St Petersburg v Liverpool Prediction
Zenit have not been playing at their best in recent matches but they have a number of powerful players returning to their side. Liverpool's away from has been slightly better so they could force a draw.
Zenit St Petersburg 1-1 Liverpool.
Back 1-1 at a best betting price of 6/1 on the current market.