Liverpool will need to put in a big Anfield performance if they are to overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit and advance to the last-16 of the Europa League.
Zenit St. Petersburg go into Thursday’s second-leg with Liverpool holding a two-goal advantage over the Premier League club.
Liverpool were left to rue a hat-full of missed opportunities in Russia, as they were beaten 2-0 by Zenit in the first leg. Luis Suarez, in particular, was wasteful in front of goal and Zenit capitalised to full effect. However, Liverpool come into this tie on the back of their most impressive performance of the season, beating Swansea City 5-0. They were excellent in front of goal and Brendan Rodgers will hope his side can reproduce some of that form on Thursday.
Zenit can consider themselves lucky to come into tonight’s game with a two-goal advantage and will look to frustrate Liverpool by shoring up the midfield. Their season ended in December but they displayed none of the cobwebs of post-season mediocrity when beating Liverpool in the first-leg. The Russians will be full of confidence and have the ability to see this tie through.
Fabio Borini was injured in the 5-0 defeat of Swansea and is unavailable for selection. Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen are expected to start the game, while Martin Skrtel could face his former club in place of Jamie Carragher. Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Couthinho are both ineligible and the onus will be on Luis Suarez to perform.
Zenit’s domestic season is over and they have no injury concerns ahead of the game.
Players to Watch
Luis Suarez is undoubtedly Liverpool’s main attacking threat. His wastefulness during the first-leg will have played on his mind, and the Uruguayan will look to set the record straight on Thursday. Jose Enrique is an important figure in both defence and attack for Liverpool and if he can get up the line and provide ample supply to Suarez, Zenit will be in for a tough 90 minutes.
Hulk is one of the most dangerous footballers in European football and scored a wonderful goal in the first-leg. The Brazilian is a real live-wire and is deadly from long-range from either foot. His movement off the ball is unpredictable and the Liverpool defence will need to be at their best to repel the Zenit danger-man.
Liverpool were impressive at the weekend, but are without Daniel Sturridge, Fabio Borini and Philippe Coutinho for Thursday’s second-leg. Zenit are 13/5 ‘Draw No Bet’ with Boylesports.com (meaning your stake is returned if it’s a draw) and this is a good value bet.