Villas-Boas’ Zenit host tenacious Torino in Europa League last 16
Zenit St Petersburg made light work of PSV in the last 32 of the Europa League, beating them 4-0 on aggregate, but now must face battlers Torino, who saw off Athletic Bilbao 5-4 after both legs.
This duo have never faced each other in competitive competition before, but Andre Villas-Boas’ side have won just one of their last four home matches against Italian opposition, so take tasty odds of 9/2 for the Bull for victory in this first leg.
But Zenit are odds-on favourites with Coral at 8/13 to triumph in Russia, and look decent shouts to do so to nil, as they have come out on top without conceding in all three of their matches in 2015. They are a more enticing 21/20 to get a clean sheet again.
One man who is confident his side can continue their impressive start to the year, following a winter break, is Zenit keeper Yuri Lodygin.
“I’d like to continue with winning streak,” the Russia international said. “I’ve been really happy with the team over the last few games. Everyone has been moving well, helping each other, playing well in defence.
“Everyone knew what they should do. The result of this is that we are continuing to play well and we are getting ready for some new experiences coming up.”
While Zenit’s Italian left back Domenico Criscito, added: “Torino is a really good Italian team, and according to European standards too. Strong players, strong coach — it’s not going to be simple with them.”
Torino have a number of attackers that can cause the Russians trouble, though, in the likes of Azzurri veterans Amauri and Fabio Quagliarella, as well as Maxi Lopez. The latter duo got goals in the last round against Bilbao, so are tempting 3/1 and 10/3 chances respectively to net again anytime.
Flying wing back Matteo Darmian, who got the crucial winner in Spain’s Basque Country last time out, and is an enticing 9/1 shout in the same market.
The hosts can rely on the likes of Brazilian star Hulk and Salamon Rondon both even-money to score anytime), who were both on target against PSV.
Former Premier League players Andrey Arshavin (Arsenal) and Javi Garcia (Manchester City) could also feature, and are respective 7/4 and 10/3 chances.