Free-spending Anzhi are determined to go all the way in Europa League, and the Dagestan club have high hopes ahead of the clash with Hannover. The 96ers face all kinds of problems before the match in Moscow, but that doesn’t mean we should write them off just yet.
Willian in, Samba out
With billionaire owner Suleyman Kerimov pumping up huge amounts of cash into the playing squad, Anzhi continue to improve and it appears they are on the way to become one of the top sides in Europe. The Dagestan team are still very much in the title race in Russian Premier League, but with the domestic season not due to resume for another four weeks, Guus Hiddink’s side may not be sharp enough when they take on Hannover. Club officials are still searching for a new centre-back after Chris Samba left for QPR, with Andrey Eshchenko hardly a perfect replacement for the towering defender. They have been boosted by the arrival of Willian from Shakhtar Donetsk, with the Brazilian set to make their attacking department even more dangerous. With Hannover struggling on the travels and not used to the artificial surface, Anzhi will see the first leg as their opportunity to put this tie to bed, so I certainly expect them to attack their opponents from the off.
Lacina Traore is definitely out, while Samuel Eto’o should play despite struggling with a back problem.
Dismal record on the travels
Hannover have been on a major uptrend ever since Mirko Slomka took over the reigns and they have established them as one of the top sides in Germany. Team’s showings in Bundesliga this season have left a lot to be desired, but the 96ers eased off to Europa League knockout stages. They remain unbeaten in this year’s European campaign, although the disappointing run on the travels might prove to be the problem ahead of the match with Anzhi. Hannover not only lost six of last seven away games, but conceded 23 goals in the process, which cannot give the team much reason for optimism. Serious injury crisis only adds to the worries, with the only positive the fact that star striker Mame Biram Diouf continues to score goals for fun.
Didier Ya Konan is back from Africa Cup of Nations, but Lars Stindl, Steve Cherundolo, Felipe, Mario Eggimann, Leon Andreasen, Franca and Ali Gokdemir all miss out through injury.
Anzhi should be lethal up front now that Willian was added to what was already a star-studded squad and they will waste no time in trying to create an advantage ahead of the return leg. Hannover concede way too many goals away from home, but they can be very dangerous on the break. Everything suggests we will see goals galore in Moscow.
Top pick: Over 2.5 goals 1.95 (19/20) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 2.00 (1/1) @ Stan James
Alternative pick 2: Home win 1.73 (8/11) @ BetFred
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