Dortmund should still deliver without missing midfielders
Russia captain Roman Shirokov has lost just one match in six against teams from Germany’s Bundesliga.
Zenit St Petersburg must hope their talismanic midfielder can keep that run going as they entertain Borussia Dortmund, odds-on 1/5 favourites to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals, in the last 16 first leg.
Managed by Luciano Spalletti, Zenit are 10/3 to win the home half of this tie and there are contrasting signs about their hopes of pulling off an upset against last season’s beaten finalists.
Former Arsenal attacker Andrei Arshavin has scored just one goal in five appearances against Bundesliga sides. If you think his luck will change here, then back him at 5/1 to net anytime.
Zenit’s other strikers Jose Salomon Rondon and Aleksandr Kerzhakov are both 7/4 shots to net in the match. Neither has ever faced German opposition before and there is a slight doubt over the latter as he picked up a minor back problem in training.
Coach Spalletti must do without top-scorer Danny and wingback Cristian Ansaldi for this match. Zenit are thus 7/2 to qualify from the tie. This first leg is 11/4 to be drawn.
Serbian defender Aleksandar Lukovic is the only player in Russian ranks to have encountered Dortmund before in his Udinese days. He played twice against them in the 2008, recording two wins and an away clean sheet.
Vyacheslav Malafeev, meanwhile, has struggled to keep German sides out. The Zenit goalie has kept just one shut-out in six attempts against Bundesliga outfits. Odds of 5/1 on the host keeping a clean sheet should be avoided here for good reason.
Star striker Robert Lewandowski heads three key players for Dortmund who are fit to play. Defender Mats Hummels and forward Marco Reus are back after heel and thigh problems respectively.
Back Bayern Munich-bound Lewandowski, who has four in six in the competition this season and netted 10 last term, to score anytime at evens. Reus, meanwhile, is a 7/4 chance to grab a goal.
Jurgen Klopp is missing the deeper-lying midfield pair that helped Dortmund to the final hurdle last season. A niggling back problem has practically sidelined Ilkay Gundogan all campaign and Sven Bender joined him on the shelf in their last outing.
Lewandowski’s fellow Poland international Jakub Blaszczykowski and Serb Neven Subotic are also on the treatment table long-term. There is more than enough in the Dortmund squad, however, to justify their tag as odds-on favourites at 5/6 and take a lead back to the Westfalenstadion.