Double wins over Honved and Vitesse Arnhem have seen Anzhi reach the final hurdle in their attempt to qualify for Europa League group stages.
However, with seasoned European side AZ Alkmaar hoping to achieve the same feat, the Russian Premier League out will have their work cut out for them.
Following the heavy summer spending, Anzhi somehow managed to win the final Europa League berth by achieving a fifth-place finish in the Russian Premier League, and they can take pride at the fact they were just five points behind runners-up Spartak.
Even if they were expected to continue their shopping spree, the side from Dagestan signed only one notable player this summer, striker Lacina Traore.
While the team enjoyed somewhat slow start to their league campaign, they were pretty impressive in Europe, recording 5-0 and 4-0 aggregate wins over Honved and Vitesse Arnhem respectively.
AZ Alkmaar may be more serious opponent than the ones they faced in the previous rounds, but 1.95 (19/20) offered by BetVictor on home win still looks like a very good price to me.
The good news is that Samuel Eto’o and Mbark Boussoufa have resumed training after missing the Zenit game at the weekend, but Odil Akhmedov is set for a spell on the sidelines after he was operated on the injured ankle.
Lacina Traore has resumed training after spending three weeks on the sidelines, but he is likely to start on the bench.
Probable starting line-up (4-4-1-1): Gabulov – Logashov, Joao Carlos, Samba, Tagirbekov – Shativ, Gabulov, Jusilei, Zhirkov – Boussoufa – Eto’o.
AZ Alkmaar have become a real force to be reckoned with in Dutch Eredivisie over the years and their fourth-place finish last season ensured them the Europa League berth.
However, the team enter the new season with a severely weakened squad, given that key players Niklas Moisander, Brett Holman, Simon Poulsen, Rasmus Elm, Ragner Klavan and Charlison Benschop are no longer there.
The only notable signings are Viktor Elm and Donny Gorter, so it is fair to say the team are much weaker than last term.
That didn’t stop them, however, from holding Ajax to 2-2 draw or beating Heracles at the weekend, so maybe they can make odds of 2.00 (1/1) offered by bet365 on AZ Alkmaar to qualify worth while.
Having scored 4 goals in the first 2 league games, Jozy Altidore is looking to continue his impressive run in Russia and he could prove a handful for the opposition defenders.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Alvarado – Marcelis, Reijnen, Viergever, Gorter – Falkenburg, Maher, Elm – Beerens, Altidore, Martens.