Bordeaux vs Zenit St. Petersburg – Thursday, November 8, 20:00 GMT/21:00 CET/22:00 MSK – Stade Matmut-Atlantique, Bordeaux, France
It is hard to see where the light at the end of the tunnel for Bordeaux is at the moment. The season has passed from farce to disappointment to false hope with rare bright spots sprinkled in between. Ligue Un is extremely tight in mid-table; Bordeaux themselves are 11th out of 20, and only two points off seventh. They are also closer to relegation than European qualification, standing six points from the only direct Europa League place.
Dominated by the still unbeaten French champions Paris Saint-Germain, who are sitting at the top of the table with 36 points from 12 games the just ten points separate second place HSC Montpellier and 11th spot Bordeaux. That is not, however, to suggest that everything is in order in France’s most famous wine region.
A poor series of results has meant that the club fired head coach Gustavo Poyet in September. Poyet has since described his former club “as an amateur organisation” in French media. The club had forgotten to register new signing Toma Basic for the Europa League and Poyet also suggested that Bordeaux previous owner Nicolas De Tavernost had to Google the former head coach.
The club hired Ricardo Gomes to replace Poyet. But the Brazilian is lacking the necessary training licence to officially coach the club and in his stead conditioning coach Eric Bedouet is listed as the man in charge. Not that it improved the results by much anyhow – under Gomes Bordeaux have won just three out of eight games and drawn three and lost two. Meanwhile, in the Europa League Bordeaux have lost all three games and are on the brink of elimination.
Zenit, in the meantime, are far removed from any potential crisis on the pitch. Coached by Sergey Semak Zenit are first in Group C and with a win can advance should Slavia Praha defeat Copenhagen in the parallel match. Domestically, the club has also been flying collecting 31 points out of the first 13 games sitting seven points clear at the top of the table.
Off the pitch, however, there have been some dark clouds gathering around Zenit and their owner Gazprom. The club was among the teams named in the recent Football Leaks revelations, which suggest that the club has been circumnavigating UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations with the help of over-stipulated sponsorship contracts.
Those that have followed the club closely in the last few years were always aware that Zenit needed cash injections from their sponsor. Furthermore, the club has embarked on cost-cutting measures prior to the Roberto Mancini era – in which Zenit spent almost a €100 on new players. Under Semak Zenit seem to be once again on a tighter budget but whether the club will now feel the wrath of new investigations remains to be seen.
On the pitch that should not matter all too much on Thursday. Zenit are favourites to win the game and could even qualify for the next stage in France’s wine country.
Bordeaux vs Zenit St. Petersburg – Players to Watch
Otavio #5 – Bordeaux
The Brazilian enforcer has been one the few bright sparks in recent weeks for the embattled French club with an impressive return to form. Not only does he make over four tackles per game domestically, he also completes almost two dribbles per game as well. His style is very much playing on the front foot in the face of opposition midfielders, which can sometimes lead to disciplinary issues. When he combines his undoubted talent on the ball with his controlled aggression, however, he can be a nightmare to control
Artem Dzyuba #22 – Zenit St. Petersburg
The big man up front has become a more focused player since claiming the national team captaincy. His impact is when on form is immeasurable. In the past, he has been labelled a blunt instrument, but his hold-up play makes the 4-3-3 system favoured by manager Sergey Semak tick. In the absence of his more fluid fellow forward Aleksandr Kokorin, the use of pace out wide has become even more relevant; Dzyuba holds the key to making the most of this.
Bordeaux vs Zenit St. Petersburg – Match Stats
- Bordeaux will be eliminated from the competition if Slavia Prague better their result, or if they lose regardless of other results
- Bordeaux are unbeaten in their last four home encounters against Russian opposition
- The French hosts haven’t won a Europa League group stage match at home in five attempts, losing five of their last eight.
- Bordeaux have now gone 12 matches from the group stage onwards without a win, just two short of the all-time winless record
- Zenit have never failed to progress from their Europa League group on three previous attempts
- In their last 10 away matches in this competition, Zenit have scored a whopping 27 goals, won seven matches and lost just once
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Bordeaux vs Zenit – 0-2
Bordeaux vs Zenit St. Petersburg – Possible Lineups
Costil – Sabaly, Counde, Pablo, Palencia – Otavio, Lerager, Sankhare – Kamano, Briand, Karamoh
Manager: Eric Bedouet
Zenit St. Petersburg
Lunev – Ivanovic, Mamana, Neto, Chernov – Paredes, Marchisio, Kuzyaev – Driussi, Dzyuba, Shatov
Manager: Sergey Semak
Andrew Flint is an English freelance football writer living in Tyumen, Western Siberia, with his wife and two daughters. He has featured on These Football Times, Russian Football News, Four Four Two and Sovetski Sport, mostly focusing on full-length articles about derbies, youth development and the game in Russia. Due to his love for FC Tyumen, he is particularly interested in lower league Russian football and is looking to establish himself in time for the 2018 World Cup. Follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMijFlint.
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.