Expensively assembled Zenit team have been pretty disappointing at the start of the Champions League group stages, but this will feel like a perfect opportunity to return to the right track. Anderlecht, too, are struggling in Europe, and they will have to produce a perfect performance in order to get something from this clash.
Zenit showing improvement
Considering the heavy investment in the playing squad, nobody was surprised to see Zenit significantly improve their fortunes over the last decade, and with Hulk an Witsel arriving in the summer, the Russians were expected to prove their worth in Europe as well. With the new players still struggling to adapt to life in Russia, the team have not been able to hit the grounding running just yet, but they have been showing a lot of improvement of late. Luciano Spalletti’s side played really well against Milan and were very unfortunate to lose the game, but back to back wins over Krasnodar and Kuban saw the players restore some of the lost confidence. It is now perfectly clear that Zenit are raising their game and home game against struggling Anderlecht is an excellent opportunity to get back into contention for a place in the Champions League knockout stages.
Star midfielder Igor Denisov continues to train with the youth team following the clash with club chiefs, but all other players are ready for the Anderlecht game.
Suarez and Mbokani missing
Anderlecht were made to work hard for their place in the Champions League group stages, having recorded a 3-2 aggregate win over AEL Limassol in the play-off stage, but the team have since failed to show they deserve to be playing at this level. The Belgian giants somehow managed to bring one point from the away game against Milan, but only because the Rossoneri were terribly disappointing on the night. The 3-0 home defeat to Malaga proved Anderlecht are the weakest side in this group and you will forgive me for thinking they cannot get anything from the away clash with Zenit. Having scored most of the goals this season as well as last thanks to individual quality of Dieumerci Mbokani and Matias Suarez, Anderlecht are going to have major problems up front with both forwards missing through injury.
Dieumerci Mbokani and Matias Suarez are definitely out, while Cheikhou Kouyate and Massimo Bruno are doubtful.
Arguably the best team in Russia are nearing their top form and they should have it in them to see of severely weakened Anderlecht in front of their own fans. The Belgians have been utterly disappointing in Europe so far and they cannot be expected to hurt Zenit without Suarez and Mbokani.
Our prediction: Zenit with -1 Asian handicap
Odds: 1.83 (5/6)