After seeing themselves to a late goal in Germany in the first leg, Zenit will feel much better about this second leg Round of 16 Europa League clash at home in St.
Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg, Russia 15 Mar 2018 6:00 pm (GMT)
Key Stat: The only victories for RB Leipzig in the last month have come in this competition. (Two wins in seven matches).
Expert Verdict: As far as two-legged knockout ties go, this match is very finely poised. Both teams will be fairly happy with the result of the first leg. Leipzig got the win they would have wanted, and Zenit got the away goal that will give them a lot of momentum for this second leg at home. The Russians reversed a deficit in the last round, but their opposition have shown themselves to be quite the threat away from home.
Roberto Mancini has injuries that are keeping center back Emmanuel Mammana and center midfielders Viktor Faizulin and Daler Kuzyaev out of the squad.
Domenico Criscito might have been the man that grabbed the late goal for Zenit last week to give them a much better chance of progressing from the tie, but it's another full back that should be watched closely. That man is Branislav Ivanovic. He scored a massive goal for them against Celtic in the last round at home, and he has been known to score crucial goals in Europe down the years. In addition to that, he's a great defender and a player you can count on to perform.
Zenit have two draws, two losses, and a win in their last five matches:
0-0 draw at Rostov
2-1 loss at RB Leipzig (UEL)
0-0 home draw vs Amkar Perm
3-0 home win vs Celtic (UEL)
1-0 loss at Celtic (UEL)
Defenders:Ivanovic, Mevlja, Zabolotnyi, Criscito
Midfielders:Rigoni, Erokhin, Kranevitter, Zhirkov
Ralph Hasenhuttl has injuries to left back Marcel Halstenburg and center midfielder Konrad Laimer that are keeping them out at the moment. Winger Ademola Lookman is not eligible to play due to being cup tied after featuring for Everton in the group stages.
With a tough away match in Russia to come, Leipzig don't have a lot of wiggle room if they have aspirations of moving on. They will need a solid, composed, display from central midfield talisman Naby Keita to move on here. The Guinea man has been a little erratic with his discipline this season, picking up several red cards. However, he is one of the most talented players in an overall sense in this tournament and picked up an assist in the first leg to help drive them to victory.
Leipzig have two draws, a win, and two losses in their last five matches:
0-0 draw at Stuttgart
2-1 home win vs Zenit (UEL)
1-1 home draw vs Borussia Dortmund
1-2 home loss vs Cologne
0-2 home loss vs Napoli (UEL)
Defenders:Bernardo, Orban, Upamecano, Klostermann
Midfielders:Forsberg, Demme, Keita, Bruma
The first leg was the first occasion in which these two sides met. Both teams will have felt decent about the result with RB Leipzig feeling good about winning 2-1 while Zenit will be happy to have grabbed an away goal. Leipzig had jumped in front with second half goals from Bruma and Timo Werner, but Domenico Criscito pulled one back for the Russians four minutes from time to give them a great chance of progression.
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Zenit are at 31/20 to win, a draw is at 23/10, and an RB Leipzig win is at 17/10.
In domestic play, these two sides are not in too dissimilar circumstances. They are each in the chasing pack in regards to the Champions League spots, but Zenit still do have a chance, albeit a small one, of moving up and clinching an unlikely title victory. They have three teams to jump over just to get to second and try to make a play on leaders Lokomotiv. Leipzig, along with everyone else not named Bayern, are out of the title running. But they are embroiled in a fierce battle for UCL places right now, and every result is crucial in that race.
Unlike many years recently, Zenit did not begin their European excursions in the Champions League. Instead, they have been in this competition for the entirety of the season. They won two ties just to book their place in the group, and from there they went on to advance out of a fairly tough group that included Real Sociedad, Rosenborg, and Vardar in it. In the last round, they overcame Celtic after a poor first leg due to a great effort in the second to win 3-1 on aggregate. RB Leipzig come into this match having dropped out of the Champions League. This is the first year of any European involvement for them after finishing second in the Bundesliga last season, and they did fairly well in a UCL group with Besiktas, FC Porto, and a disappointing Monaco team to move on. In the last round, they upset Napoli over two legs by clinging on at home after a loss in that second leg.
In all comps, Zenit have a home record consisting of 11 wins, four draws, and just three losses this season. Two of the losses were in Russian Prem play, while the other was a loss to Israeli side Bnei Yehuda in UEL qualification. They are unbeaten in the last six in St. Petersburg, and had won five straight before a draw last time out with Amkar Perm. Leipzig's away record this term has included seven wins, three draws, and eight losses. It doesn't look great on paper, but they have beaten Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Napoli, so they know how to beat bigger teams away from home or to at least get results.
Zenit to move on is at 2/1 via Ladbrokes.
Zenit will have to know that they have stepped up a class in competition with Leipzig. Coming from behind against Celtic is one thing, but the German side will not be nearly as easy to dismantle. Leipzig, with that lightning quick counterattack, do enough to move on.