Anderlecht missed a good opportunity to bring at least one point from Russia as they failed to take advantage of Zenit’s poor showing, so the hosts can only hope their opponents once again fail to produce what is expected of them. The Russians clearly have much more potential then they are showing, even if they are now on a six-match winning run.
Missed opportunity for Anderlecht
Everyone who’s ever watched Anderlecht this season agrees that the team have more than enough quality for domestic stage, but that they simply don’t have what it takes to succeed in Europe. RHSC were lucky enough to have both Milan and Zenit play well below par when they were up against the Belgian side, but the fact they only picked up one point from the two clashes proves the aforementioned claim. The 3-0 home defeat to Malaga was also pretty disappointing, so the hosts clearly have little reason for optimism ahead of the match with Zenit. The return of Dieumerci Mbokani should provide a much needed boost, while suspension to important defender Marcin Wasilewski only adds to the worries. Being three points clear of second-placed Milan, Anderlecht have no choice but to try and win this game, but that is easier said than done considering the circumstances.
Marcin Wasilewski misses out through suspension, while Dieumerci Mbokani might have to settle for a place on the bench.
Hulk’s absence may be a good thing
Boss Luciano Spalletti has spent a lot of time and effort to create a homogenous unit that really impressed on all fronts last season, and while the club chiefs certainly had good intentions, their decision to add players like Hulk and Witsel to the squad at the start of September had a detrimental effect on the squad. Key midfielder Igor Denisov was dropped from the squad for his protest against the two players’ high wages, while the Brazilian forward brought little to Zenit’s attack. Rather than making the front line more lethal, Hulk only disrupted the balance in the squad, and given that the player is clearly far from the desired form, his absence from this match could be a blessing in disguise. On the other hand, with both Igor Denisov and Danny back to the side, the creative department should be significantly improved and there is a good chance that the Zenit which largely impressed last season will turn up at Stade Constant Vanden Stock.
Igor Denisov is expected to start after returning to the side, but Danny looks set to start from the bench. Aleksandar Lukovic and Hulk miss out through injury.
Anderlecht continue to struggle on European stage and the only way how they can get something from this game is if Zenit produce another under-par performance. The Russians are, however, boosted by the six-match winning run and the return of Denisov and Danny, so I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if they take all three points from Brussels.
Top pick: Zenit Draw no bet 1.83 (5/6) @ SkyBet
Alternative pick 1: Away win 2.70 (17/10) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Under 2.5 goals 1.80 (4/5) @ 888sport