Anderlecht had a reasonably quiet January in the transfer window with Roef going out on loan and Ruben coming the other way on loan, they should have a very settled side and have plenty of quality going forward. They should be in good form having picked up a good 4-2 win on Sunday and fatigue shouldn’t really be an issue at the moment. Anderlecht need to get a favourable result here before the return leg, they will be pushing to get a win but will not want to over commit to attacks that would leave them vulnerable to a counter from a dangerous Zenit side. They will likely stick with their 4-2-3-1 formation with Boeckx starting in goal, Appiah was forced off on Sunday with an injury though and is unlikely to be fit for this contest, Spajic is likely to get the start on the right of the defence having had a lot of experience in that position during Appiah’s absence earlier in the season. Mbodji and Nuytinck will start at the heart of the defence with Obradovic getting the nod on the left hand side.
Zenit Petersburg have had a reasonably big turnover of their squad in January and will be hoping it doesn’t unsettle them too much. They lost Witsel so Mauricio will come into the side while new signing Hernânigets up to speed. Ivanovic(new addition from Chelsea) should start while Smolnikov returns from injury and Criscito is back from suspension. They are very strong in most areas and will play a full strength side. Zenit will be considered as one of the favourites for the whole tournament and with just cause. The squad is very strong and they will underachieve badly if they are knocked out at this stage. While Zenit will expect to go to Belgium and win, they will not throw caution to the wind and instead look to control the game with a patient possession based approach. They have a lot of talented individuals but can sometimes be narrow due to the formation so will look for support from full back. A win will be expected from this game but a draw is not unreasonable. They will chase the game if behind but will look to go in front and then protect the lead.
Verdict & Prediction
After initial scepticism surrounding this tournament Zenit are now firmly focused on winning it. They have a strong squad and will look to go far, meaning a winning start in this game will be expected. They cruised through the group and will now be at full strength for most games. I am going with the +0.00 AH option (same as Draw no bet) because the lack of competitive matches may see them slightly rusty, they played their last league game more than two months ago(a couple of friendlies in the meantime).
Prediction: Zenit Petersburg +0.00 AH (same as Draw no bet)
Odds: 1.93 SBOBET, 1.91 Pinnacle