Bank on goals as Zenit look to go on the attack in return leg
Bhoys could get chances on the counter
Europa League last-32 second leg
BT Sport 3, 6pm Thursday
Zenit, in the midst of their winter hibernation, were caught cold in Glasgow as they went down to a 1-0 defeat but they can turn the heat up on Brendan Rodgers’ men in the return leg.
Roberto Mancini’s men are solid favourites and deservedly so given their excellent home record. Having to score in front of their own fans is no challenge to them.
They’ve scored at least two goals in 19 of their last 21 home Europa League games (not including qualifying matches) and may well have to score at least two to oust the Scottish champions. Banking on more than three goals in the match looks to be the way to go.
The pitch should be conducive to an open, decent affair since a new hybrid surface has just been laid and the roof will be shut to keep out the Arctic chill.
Zenit will have warmed up after their first competitive run-out of 2018 at Parkhead. They weren’t particularly impressive going down to Callum McGregor’s second-half strike, but the rust is out of the system and Mancini doesn’t seem overly perturbed and is backing his lads to get it right second time.
It's easy to see why he would trust his personnel. They amassed 16 points out of 18 to top Group L and scored eight times in three home matches. Five of their six matches produced over 2.5 goals.
Alexander Kokorin and Emiliano Rigoni, with 11 goals between them in the group stage, are genuine dangermen.
Celtic have taken some seriously heavy defeats on the road in Europe and aren’t at full strength. They’ve also put in some fairly insipid efforts domestically of late.
But the Scottish champions have got goals in them and pace to burn on the counter, and they will get chances to break against a team who are likely to be doing the bulk of the attacking.
Over 2.5 goals
3pts 19-20 bet365, 188Bet
Branislav Ivanovic, an unused sub last week after eye surgery, is expected to return.
Mikael Lustig has shaken off a knock. Craig Gordon, Dedryck Boyata, Patrick Roberts, Stuart Armstrong and Leigh Griffiths are sidelined.
Zenit are unbeaten in 17 home Europa League ties from the group stage onwards.
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