Celta Vigo vs Krasnodar – 20:05 GMT/21:05 CET, Estadio de Balaídos – Vigo
Fyodor Smolov is out of Krasnodar’s round of 16 first leg tie in Spain – the longest distance Krasnodar could have travelled to face one of the remaining Europa League clubs – after picking up a late injury in his side’s dramatic 2-2 draw with rivals Spartak Moscow. With Brazilian forward Ari out on loan at Lokomotiv and Pavel Mamaev struggling to recover from a long term injury, it means Igor Shalimov is unable to call upon three of his four top goalscorers from last season.
The pressure is on the Bulls to progress having knocked out an arguably stronger opponent in Turkish giants Fenerbahce, not to mention the race to qualify for Europe next season. While winning this tournament may be a little too optimistic for the Russian side, the stronger their performances the better their chances of attracting the best talent in the summer that they will need to spearhead their next domestic and continental campaign.
Celta Vigo have slightly struggled to maintain their upward trajectory of recent seasons in La Liga, despite former Liverpool flop Iago Aspas behind only Luís Suarez, Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the league scoring charts. They have only won twice in their last nine matches in all competitions, and were roundly hammered 5-0 by Barcelona at the weekend.
They did, however, beat the Catalans by the odd goal in seven back in October, and are rarely involved in low-scoring affairs. Since the opening weekend, they have only had three league matches with fewer than two goals. They also sprang a huge surprise in knocking out one of the tournament favourites in the last round in Shakhtar Donetsk, so should not be underestimated.
Although Krasnodar will have to reconfigure their frontline, they can be reassured by the fantastic early form of Viktor Claesson, who has scored three goals in three games, and the marauding Ecuadorian left back Cristian Ramírez. They will have to make do without defensive midfield lynchpin Charles Kaboré and right back Vitali Kaleshin who are both suspended however.
Celta Vigo vs Krasnodar – Players to Look Out For
Celta forward Iago Aspas is the man of the moment for the Galicians, much as Liverpool fans may struggle to believe it. The slightly built attacker has found the net 19 times in all competitions this season, and although he stands one booking away from a suspension in the return leg he will pose a serious threat.
Meanwhile for the visitors, the onus on Mauricio Pereyra to knit the midfield together will be great in the absence of Charles Kaboré. The Burkinabe enforcer is a relatively unheralded presence in the centre of Krasnodar’s play and will be sorely missed, so the Uruguayan – who has found game time hard to come by since scoring an impressive eleven goals in all competitions two seasons ago – is the man likely to be tasked with filling the role.
Celta Vigo vs Krasnodar – Match Stats
- Celta are unbeaten in their last four home games against Russian clubs, but have failed to win in their last three European home games
- Krasnodar have not won on their last three European away games
- The journey between Krasnodar and Vigo – 3.800km – is the longest left in the competition
- This is the first continental campaign Celta have made in a decade, whereas Krasnodar are on their third consecutive foray into Europe
Futbolgrad Prediction: Celta Vigo vs Krasnodar 1-1
Celta Vigo vs Krasnodar – Possible Lineups
Alvarez – Mallo, Cabral, Roncaglia, Castro – Radoja, Wass, Díaz – Guidetti, Aspas, Sisto
Manager – Eduardo Berizzo
Kritsyuk – Martynovich, Naldo, Granqvist, Ramírez – Gazinsky, Pereyra, Podberezkin – Claesson, Wanderson, Okriashvili
Manager: Igor Shalimov