Maccabi Tel Aviv v Zenit St Petersburg: Back Zenit win in Israel
Russian side Zenit St Petersburg can get their Europa League campaign off to a flying start on Thursday evening
September 14th, 2016
Zenit St Petersburg’s third-place finish in the Russian Premier League last season meant that they wouldn’t be playing any part in the 2016/17 Champions League and instead they will have to content themselves with life in Europe’s second tier competition.
They are nevertheless amongst the favourites to lift the Europa League trophy at 25/1, a decent price given that the side are ranked 15th amongst Europe’s elite and have featured in the latter stages of European tournaments over recent seasons, going all the way in the 2008 UEFA Cup.
Ok so the current side contains none of the players who featured in that winning side, however current manager Mirceau Lucescu has nevertheless turned the team into a formidable outfit and there is sufficient quality in the ranks to ensure that Maccabi Tel Aviv will be put to the sword in their opening Europa League group match Thursday evening.
The Israeli side finished second in the domestic league last season behind Hapoel Be’er Sheeva, however Hapoel have failed to impress in European competition so far this season and as such, we can’t really make a case for a Maccabi victory in this midweek meeting.
The bookies have made League of Ireland side Dundalk the Group D whipping boys, however we believe that Maccabi Tel Aviv will be the ones sitting at the bottom of the table at the end of the group stages of this season’s Europa League.