Zenit – Borussia Dortmund – This is the first duel between Zenit and Borussia in European competitions and it could definitely be very interesting, although Borussia is a slight favourite. The guests are playing very changeable, and they were totally unexpectedly defeated in the championship on Saturday, while the hosts are having problems due to a fact that Russia is still on winter break and Zenit has not played enough competition matches. Borussia was much better in group stage and they have won twice as many points than Zenit, although both teams have only in the last round confirmed their placement in the 1/8 finals. Begins: 25.02.2014 – 18:00 CET
Zenit has only entered the 1/8 finals thanks to their other results, given that they were heavily defeated at home against Austria in the final round. They had only six points and only one victory in six rounds, while in the group where Borussia played, Napoli was eliminated even with 12 points. So, Zenith is there, but they are far from brilliant, and they only scored five goals. They had to do more with strikers like Hulk, Kerzhakova or Danny, but since they have not, they brought two more players, Rondon and midfielder Ryazantsev, in the winter transfer period.
They lost some of the players like Lazovic or Bystrov, but it is safe to say that they are stronger now. It is difficult to judge in what kind of shape they are currently, because they played very badly in the finish of the first part of the season, while they won only once in nine matches played in all competitions. They were eliminated from the Cup, while they share the leadership position with Lokomotiv in the championship and they also have just one point advantage over Spartak, although they had a tangible advantage at one point.
Probable lineups Zenit: Lodygin – Smolnikov, Hubocan, Lombaerts, Criscito – Witsel, Shirokov – Faizulin, Ryazantsev – Hulk, Kerzhakov
Borussia has played very well at the beginning of the second part of the season which was confirmed by their five matches without defeat, of which they have won four times and played one draw, but they also suffered a heavy defeat on Saturday against a very weak HSV. Borussia has lost some matches in this season, but they performed really badly against HSV. It was 3-0 and Borussia has become more dangerous only after they received the second goal, but it still did not help. They played very badly in defence, which was proven by those three goals. Coach Klopp has sent the expected composition to the field, but he will certainly make some changes for this match.
S. Bender was again injured, so he will definitely not play, which means that Kehl will occupy the defensive midfield position. Reus is recovered and he already performed in Hamburg in the second half, but he might be a starter now. Their biggest problem is the fact that Lewandowski is suffering from a cold, but it is expected that he will be able to play. They performed really well in the group stage of the Champions League, even though they had a very strong competition, while they are also defending the last season’s finals, so they will certainly play much better against Zenit than on Saturday.
Probable lineups Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller – Piszczek, Sokratis, M.Friedrich, Schmelzer – Sahin, Kehl – Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, Reus – Lewandowski
Zenit – Borussia Dortmund Pick
Zenit will try to take advantage of playing at home, but they have not really achieved many goals so far, and Borussia will be a little more cautious, so they will wait for their chance from counter-attacks, hoping for a rematch at home. That is why we do not expect a lot of goals in St. Petersburg.
Pick: under 3 goals