The 2017/18 UEFA Europa League resumes this week and there are some fantastic games to look forward, including the one at Celtic Park between Glasgow Celtic and Zenit St Petersburg. Celtic started their European campaign in the Champions League and having played their way through the qualifying stages they were drawn in a tough group including Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich and Anderlecht. Celtic finished third and dropped into the Europa League. Zenit started the season in the Europa League and played two qualifying rounds before reaching the group stages. The Russians comfortably topped their group, winning 5 and drawing 1 of their 6 games and qualification never looked in doubt.
Celtic defeated Partick Thistle 3-2 at home in the Scottish FA Cup on the weekend and that result means they are back to winning ways following a 1-0 loss at St Johnstone in the Sottish Premier League the week before. The defeat to St Johnstone was only Celtic’s second defeat in the league this season and they should have no problem going on to win their domestic title. At home, they won 7 and drawn 1 of their last 8 matches but European football tells a different story. This season in the Champions League group stages, Celtic lost all 3 of their home games, including a defeat to Anderlecht who finished bottom of the group. This is hardly great form going in against strong opposition in the Europa League.
Zenit have been on a winter break and have not played competitive football since the 11th December. The Russian season does not restart until after the second leg of this tie against Celtic. The Russians have been busy playing friendly games and have won 6 and drawn 1 but a question mark remains over their competitive match sharpness prior to this game. Away from home in Europe this season, Zenit have won 3, drawn 1 and lost 1 of their 5 games but were very impressive in the group stages of the Europa League. Zenit recorded 2 wins and a draw in their away group matches, with the 3-1 victory at Real Sociedad being the highlight.
Celtic have several players unavailable for this match including Leigh Griffiths, Craig Gordon, Dedryck Boyata and Jonny Hayes, who are all injured. Tom Rogic made a comeback to the substitutes bench on the weekend and could play some part in the match. Zenit have had the winter break to nurse their injured players back to fitness but still have doubts over Igor Smolnikov, Denis Terentjev and Alexander Anyukov.
Top Betting Tips
Zenit may not be at 100% considering their lack of competitive action but they have proven themselves good enough to win away matches in the Europa League, against arguably tougher opposition than Celtic. Zenit are 13/8 with William Hill to win the match. Celtic have been scoring plenty of goals at home in recent games but Zenit found the back of the net 9 times in their 3 away Europa League matches. Both teams to score is 11/18 with Ladbrokes. Emiliano Rigoni is the second highest goal scorer in the Europa League this season and the Argentine midfielder is 13/5 at Ladbrokes to score at any time.