Champions League: Valencia potential plays powerful Zenit in Group H
Champions League Group H is definitely one for the connoisseurs of European football this term. Joined by Ligue 1 runners-up Lyon, Valencia and Zenit St Petersburg will all fancy their chances of reaching the knockout phase.
With the Kids enjoying an away game at pool minnows Gent, a good start from Los Che and Andre Villas-Boas’ Russian outfit is essential. Hosts Valencia are odds-on at 4/5 with Coral to make a winning start on their return to the elite continental club competition.
By comparison to the Mestalla men, whose squad is packed full of talent with huge potential, Zenit look a little short on attacking options, and this is reflected in their 15/4 price for victory in Valencia. A draw, meanwhile, is a 13/5 chance.
A Champions League debut in the group stage beckons for prized Bats academy product Paco Alcacer at 22, and he is 4/1 to break the deadlock. AVB’s fellow Porto alumnus Nuno Espirito Santo must decide who plays alongside Spain striker Paco out of experienced frontman Alvaro Negredo, or younger talents Rodrigo Moreno and Santi Mina.
Rodrigo represents better anytime value at 21/10, with former Manchester City striker Negredo shorter at 7/5. With Algeria wideman Sofiane Feghouli (23/10 in that market) also in their ranks, there should be plenty of goals from Valencia’s attacking ensemble.
Zenit’s main threat comes from AVB favoruite Hulk, who has five in eight competitive club appearances so far this term. No other coach seems to squeeze as much out of the powerful Brazil forward as Villas-Boas, so back the Samba Boys attacker at 23/10 anytime.
Punters may be attracted to Hulk’s strike partner Artem Dzyuba after his exploits with Russia during the international break. Enthusiasm should be curbed, however, when you consider his four-goal haul was against Lichtenstein, but the 6ft 4in striker is a 3/1 shout to net in the Mestalla.
Coral’s top tip: Backing Valencia to beat Zenit and both teams score at 29/10 nicely enhances Los Che’s odds-on status as match favourites.