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EUROPE: Champions League

Date: 08-12-21

Time: 18:45 PM

Venue: Gazprom Arena (Saint Petersburg)

Their UEFA Champions League (UCL) campaign may be drawing to a halt, but for Zenit St Petersburg, a clash with Chelsea serves as a warm-up ahead of their transfer to the Europa League. Their preparation for this clash wasn’t sparkling though, with a domestic league draw against Rostov (2-2) ending a three-match winning run on home soil.

Goals have been in short supply for Zenit against English opposition – only twice in the last six such clashes have they netted more than one. On both of those occasions, the Russian side conquered their English counterparts, and finding the net 2+ times could hold the key to enjoying this final UCL game, as Zenit have not lost any home game in which they scored twice since 2014 (90 mins only).

Zenit’s solid home form certainly won’t phase Chelsea though, as the ‘Blues’ have won ‘to nil’ in each of their last three UCL wins in Russia. The Londoners on the whole tend to enjoy their jollies on the continent, losing just two of their last 19 away European games (W13, D4), it’s therefore easy to see why Chelsea are pre-match favourites.

That favourites tag is further justified when you consider Chelsea’s remarkable defensive record – the best in the UCL group stage after five matchdays (GA 1). Thomas Tuchel’s men also have the chance to claim a piece of UCL history with another shut out, becoming the fastest manager and team combination to reach ten clean sheets (13 games), beating the current record of 14.

Key battle: Zenit’s Artem Dzyuba became the all-time top scorer in the Russian Premier League in October, but he hasn’t scored a UCL goal this campaign. He’s up against Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy who has kept four clean sheets in his five UCL appearances so far this season, as he closes in on his return of nine from last season’s edition.

Recent Stats:

  • Zenit’s form in last 5 matches: DWDWD.
  • Chelsea’s form in last 5 matches: LWDWW

PREDICTION: Away and Over 1.5

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