Zenit - Liverpool Preview: Reds head to Russia hoping to bounce back from West Brom defeat
Brendan Rodgers' side face a tricky away trip as they continue their Europa League campaign but will need to recover from Monday night's damaging home loss
By Alex Hess
ZENIT ST PETERSBURG
Anyukov, Alves, Hubocan, Lombaerts
Witsel, Danny, Denisov
Hulk, Zyryanov, Alves
Wisdom, Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique
Shelvey, Allen, Henderson
Borini, Suarez, Sterling
Brendan Rodgers travels to Russia with new signing Daniel Sturridge unavailable for the second consecutive fixture, this time due to being cup-tied.
Raheem Sterling (illness) should be fully recovered in time for the game, although full back Martin Kelly (knee) remains a long-term absentee.
Zenit boss Luciano Spalletti is likely to have a fully fit first-team squad to choose from, following the Russian winter break.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Zenit St Petersburg have never lost to an English side on home soil.
- Between them, these two clubs reached three European finals in four seasons between 2005 and 2008.
- Liverpool centre back Martin Skrtel (pictured right) helped Zenit to the 2007 Russian league title before leaving for Merseyside the following year.
- Liverpool's only away defeat in the Europa League this term came in Russia, against Anzhi Makhachkala.
- Thursday's clash will be the first time the two clubs have met in their history.
- Liverpool have won as many matches as they have lost (two) away on Russian turf.
|William Hill: £25 in free bets|
|Sign up with bet365 for a 100% deposit bonus up to £200|
|Sign up to Paddy Power for £250 in free bets|
Top 3 Predictions
Zenit 1-2 Liverpool
- 15.81 %
Zenit 0-2 Liverpool
- 14.36 %
Zenit 1-3 Liverpool
- 9.51 %
|Europa League (EL)||21 Feb 2013||Liverpool 3 - Zenit 1|
|Europa League (EL)||14 Feb 2013||Zenit 2 - Liverpool 0|
|12 Apr 2014||Zenit 4 - Krasnodar 1||RUS1|
|6 Apr 2014||Zenit 6 - Rubin 2||RUS1|
|29 Mar 2014||Amkar 1 - Zenit 2||RUS1|
|24 Mar 2014||Zenit 2 - Kryliya Sovetov 1||RUS1|
|19 Mar 2014||Borussia Dortmund 1 - Zenit 2||UCL|
The second most expensive acquisition in Russian club history (sandwiched between team-mates Hulk and Axel Witsel), the Portuguese international has recently begun to find fitness and form after having missed much of 2012 with a cruciate ligament tear.
As the appointed playmaker-in-chief, Danny is invariably central to his side's attacks, equally adept at picking a pass or beating his marker and more than happy to roam out wide in search of the ball. With Lucas Leiva possibly being rested for Thursday's clash, Danny could well happen upon the pockets of space between the opposition midfield and defence in which he thrives, and is odds on to punish the opposition should he do so.
The Italian is yet to re-establish himself in the Reds' first team, though is likely to be given the chance to do so in Thursday's trip to Russia.
Specialising in drifting centrally, unnoticed, from wide berth, Borini's unyielding in-to-out darts should keep the Zenit backline on their toes throughout the game, and he will be looking to come upon the half-yard or so within the six-yard box that will reap the poacher's chance on which he thrives.
Brendan Rodgers side will likely be doing their utmost to keep things tight during the opening away leg, and they may not win, but they will be confident that a draw will be sufficient to take back to Anfield and complete the job the following week.