The Portuguese minnows are a new face in the Champions League qualifiers after an exceptional season, but Al Hain-Cole cannot see them repeating those heroics under new managementPacos de Ferreira will be looking to reach the Champions League group stages for the first time in their history when they take on Zenit St Petersburg in their home qualifier on Tuesday.
Previous boss Paulo Fonseca was rewarded with a move to Porto after leading the Portuguese minnows to the brink of Europe’s elite competition after an unprecedented third-placed finish last season, and Betway are offering odds of on 7/2 (4.50) his replacement Costinha taking them one step closer with a win this evening.
However, their visitors have reached the group stages three times in the last five years, and are favourites at 3/4 (1.75) to edge themselves closer to a third successive appearance with victory at the Estadio do Dragao.
Luciano Spalletti’s men earned themselves a 0-0 draw against Porto on their last visit to this ground two years ago, and you can get odds of 5/2 (3.50) on them settling for a stalemate against their more modest opponents this time out.
Although away form has undoubtedly been the Sine-Belo-Golubye’s achilles’ heel in recent European campaigns, they have secured 1-0 wins in their last two Champions League games on the road against AC Milan and Nordsjaelland, and will be optimistic of continuing that form against their inexperienced opponents.
Os Castores have only ever scored one goal in their previous six European matches, and their chances on improving on that record took a severe denting with Fonseca’s departure in the summer, along with a few of last campaign’s key men.
While Costinha may have boasted an enviable European CV as a player, his only experience as a manager boils down to three disappointing months at second division Beira Mar last season, and he will surely struggle to match his predecessor’s miraculous work.
Only Porto and Benfica collected more points at home than Pacos last season, yet they opened the new campaign with a first home defeat to Braga in four years on Friday, and odds of 3/4 (1.75) are not to be missed on them slumping to another loss against their wealthy guests tonight.
In fact, with three clean sheets in their last four matches, and three in their last three Champions League ties, it would be no surprise if Zenit denied the hosts a goal for the sixth time in seven European fixtures on the way to victory, and 19/10 (2.90) odds offer decent value on them winning to nil in Portugal.
|Zenit to win for a 2pt stake at 3/4 (1.75) with Betway
||Zenit to win to nil for a 1pt stake at 19/10 (2.90) with Betway
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Al Hain-Cole is a Liverpool fan, experienced tipster and avid follower of European football. He specialises in accumulators and if you would like to read more from Al you can follow him on Twitter here.