Home Sports Football Europa League Bhoys in good shape for Russian test
Bhoys in good shape for Russian test

Bhoys in good shape for Russian test

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Celtic were big underdogs going into their Europa League last-32 tie with Zenit St Petersburg a week ago but the Scottish champions have given themselves a real chance of progress in Russia on Thursday evening.

The Hoops easily delivered their best European performance of this season as they overcame Zenit by a single goal at Parkhead in the first leg.

Callum McGregor’s late strike was the least that Celtic deserved for a controlled, probing assault on their visitors. In truth, Brendan Rodgers may feel his team should be travelling to the Baltic Sea armed with more than a one-goal advantage.

Roberto Mancini’s team looked every inch a team coming back from a winter break in Glasgow, with their run of friendlies clearly not having sharpened their game quite enough for the intensity Celtic brought to the table.

Zenit were the leading scorers in the group stage of the Europa League and they undoubtedly have the attacking threat to pierce Celtic on home soil. But they will need to go up several notches from last week if they are to avoid conceding at the other end.

A propensity to get in trouble playing in their own half was evident during the first leg, something Celtic must attempt to exploit in Russia by avoiding sitting too deep.

The Scottish side can score in this game and that might be enough to see them through, with Zenit 31/4 to win the second leg 2-1 at home.

There were just four draws from the 16 games played last week in the Europa League, none producing more goals than the four shared by Real Sociedad and Salzburg in San Sebastian.

The La Liga side have been involved in some high-scoring encounters lately, with Sociedad’s three most recent games producing 18 goals prior to Salzburg arriving.

Over the weekend Sociedad overcame Levante 3-0 and the goals should continue to flow in this finely balanced tie, so over 3.5 goals in the second leg is put forward at 6/4.

Steaua Bucharest got the better of Lazio by a single goal in their first-leg encounter. They have never scored on Italian soil, however, making Lazio a solid proposition to move into the last 16 at odds of 10/17 ahead of their meeting in Rome.

Bundesliga side Leipzig are enjoying their maiden European campaign, more so after a 3-1 win over Napoli last week in Italy.

With a mountain to climb in the second leg and their focus perhaps more on the Serie A title race, the Italians may not be at full tilt for the return game and Leipzig are fancied to go through with another win at 5/7.

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Gareth Freeman Gareth is our daily tipster, who has years of successful sports betting behind him and is always on hand to offer a value bet. As well as a passion for Football (UK and European), he also has in-depth Tennis, Boxing, Snooker and Basketball knowledge.